It’s never too late for marital bliss, but the clock’s ticking for Hollywood icon George Clooney to secure his premarital assets. UltraTrust.com explains why.
As news about George Clooney’s engagement to prestigious British attorney Amal Alamuddin made entertainment news headlines around the world as described by USA Today (1), the conversation around this topic is turning to what the future may hold for this fabulous couple. The Belfast Telegraph reported on reactions from Stacy Kiebler, a former professional wrestler who was previously romantically linked to Clooney. Kiebler was not too happy to learn about the engagement news (2).
Engaged George Clooney is No longer Hollywood’s most Eligible Bachelor
According to The Guardian, Clooney was dining in Malibu with his beautiful fiancee when fellow actor Edward Norton stopped by the couple’s table (3) and learned about the engagement, which took place as the actor celebrated his 53rd birthday in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Fox News confirmed the announcement with a congratulatory statement from Clooney’s father (4), and remarked that this is the actor’s second attempt at marriage.
“We’re going to hear more about this engagement and the possibility of a prenuptial agreement as the wedding date gets closer,” comments Rocco Beatrice of UltraTrust.com. Mr. Beatrice is the Managing Director of Estate Street Partners, LLC, the CPA firm that specializes in strategic wealth management solutions. Mr. Beatrice continues: “This is similar to the buzz surrounding the wedding plans of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt; a lot of media attention has been focused on their reported prenuptial agreement and their desire to keep their wealth separate,” explains Mr. Beatrice, who is referring to the advice, according to The Guardian, Jolie gave to fellow Hollywood star Johnny Depp earlier this year (5).
While the intentions of prenuptial agreements may seem clear, the actual results are often not what most couples expect; Prenups have pro’s and con’s.
“While the intentions of prenuptial agreements may seem clear, the actual results are often not what most couples expect; Prenups have pro’s and con’s. Legal history shows us that media magnate Rupert Murdoch lost quite a bit of wealth after his 1999 divorce, and he had a prenuptial agreement.” Mr. Beatrice is referring to Murdoch’s divorce from Anna Torv, who received $110 million in cash and the rights to more than $1 billion in News Corp. stock, which she promptly and kindly assigned to her children through a series of irrevocable trusts (6).
“Let’s not forget about Barry Bonds’ divorce; his prenup was questioned and challenged in various California courtrooms as the battle was brought all the way up to the Supreme Court of California. It prevailed in the end, but it took years and a million dollars in legal fees to do so.” Here Mr. Beatrice is referring to the Major League Baseball legend who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants. Bonds nearly struck out on his separation from Susann Branco; his prenuptial agreement had to be certified as voluntary by the Supreme Court of California six years after the divorce was filed (7).
“Clooney has a few things to consider before going into this marriage. He is in his 50s, he has amassed a considerable fortune a top Hollywood A-lister, and this is his second run at life as a married man. He is also getting married to a top-notch attorney, one of the brightest legal minds in England. Instead of a prenup, he should be looking into something a bit more sophisticated such as an irrevocable trust to protect and control the most critical parts of the fortune he has made as an actor, producer and director,” explains Mr. Beatrice.
“There is something about life imitating art with Clooney’s engagement. Through his work as a Hollywood actor, he has come to learn about estates, prenuptial agreements, and trusts.” Here Mr. Beatrice is respectively referring to the films “The Descendants” (8) and “Intolerable Cruelty” (9). In the latter movie, Clooney plays Miles Massey, a family law attorney who believes he has crafted a completely airtight and ironclad prenup; in the former, he also plays a lawyer who must make a decision how to proceed on valuable Hawaii real estate that is locked in a land trust.
“Clooney has built his acting career around the concept of being a suave leading man and a smooth operator,” continued Mr. Beatrice, “but even this reputation is not going to prevent him from coming across as unromantic when he mentions a prenuptial agreement. It may help that his fiancee is brilliant and will understand the legal provisions and limitations of a prenup; still, this is an awkward situation for all couples. These premarital contracts are known to be romance-killers that essentially create emotional baggage that couples must carry into their marriages; let’s keep in mind the logistics involved: Lawyers, witnesses, notaries, etc.”
Mr. Beatrice believes that irrevocable trusts would be more adequate for this power couple before they tie the knot: “We have two successful individuals who are passionate about their careers and who have accomplished a lot on their own. They can each establish individual trusts to protect and control what they have worked so hard to obtain up to this point. I’m sure they are concerned about their privacy as well; which is another reason they should get irrevocable trusts instead of a prenuptial agreement. We know all the juicy bits about Barry Bonds’ prenuptial agreement because divorce proceedings in California are highly public. You just don’t have that problem with irrevocable trusts because it is all a private arrangement.”
When irrevocable trusts are brought forward in divorce cases, judges merely look into the trust to make sure that no marital property was deposited therein. “Irrevocable trusts have been challenged in several family court jurisdictions, and they have performed formidably. Judges understand the concept of individuals who agree to have a trustee manage their property and assets for the benefit of others while still retaining full control and enjoyment of the assets. Obviously Clooney and Alamuddin have a lot to protect, but irrevocable trusts are not just for the rich.”
“In the end, it is my opinion that neither George Clooney not Amal Alamuddin should get a prenuptial agreement. Instead, they should be looking at more sophisticated avenues that achieve the goal better,” concluded Mr. Beatrice. “Regardless of their decision, we should be happy that these two advocates of human rights are getting together. Congratulations to the happy couple.”
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