Jeff Bezos is currently listed as the world's richest person, with a stated net worth of $137B. This is almost exclusively from his partial ownership of Amazon, which was founded a year after his marriage to MacKenzie.

Jeff and MacKenzie live in Washington, a community property state. In community property states, both spouses are considered to jointly own all assets acquired after their marriage. Since Amazon was founded after they were married, it follows that all assets from Amazon are jointly owned.

Given that, why is Jeff alone considered to be worth $137B? Isn't it the case that Jeff and MacKenzie are collectively worth that amount?

Thus, do we say that Jeff is the richest person by convention or tradition only or is there a legal standing to that status, and he really does own those assets individually?

closed as off-topic by Aganju, Bob Baerker, Nathan L, Dheer, Chris W. Rea Jan 10 at 11:56

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  • The number 2 richest guy lives in the same state, FWIW. And #5 and 10 live in California, another community property state. – The Photon Jan 9 at 18:09
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    Jeff alone is considered to be worth $100,000,000,000+ because that's the headline that people will click. – quid Jan 9 at 18:28
  • Note that he could claim all of that wealth if there was some sort of prenuptual agreement in place. – D Stanley Jan 9 at 19:34
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    I don’t really see how this question fits this stack. How is it PF, or how would the answer help you? – JoeTaxpayer Jan 9 at 22:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a specific legal question about a celebrity. It does not ask a question that can be generalized to the personal finances of the users of this site. – Nathan L Jan 10 at 4:34

In an attempt to tie this to personal finance, joint ownership does not imply split ownership. Bezos could legally spend every penny of his Amazon stock without needing explicit permission from his wife. So from a practical standpoint, Bezos has access to all of the assets that they own jointly. It might me more accurate to say that combined they are worth that much, but that's splitting hairs in my opinion since it's really Jeff's work that created the fortune. That said, the results of his impending divorce may change that ownership significantly.

It's also likely that neither of them personally own Amazon stock or other assets, but that there's a trust or other legal instrument that actually has ownership, but they have full access to. Such details are not important (or interesting) to the general public.

In addition, Washington being a community property state does not mean that his wife will automatically get half of his fortune. It is possible that they reach a settlement where she receives less than half of their combined wealth, depending on the terms of their divorce agreement.

  • +1. Jeff is the richest man until the divorce is final and things may or may not change then. – xyious Jan 14 at 21:42

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