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Devising An Estate Plan For Intellectual Property


You and your spouse collect rare art and you have also written 3 books. While only 1 book is published, you have several manuscripts and write poetry as a hobby. Your spouse is also an amateur sculptor. You did not mention any of this to your estate law attorney, because what does it have to do with estate planning? Actually, quite a lot. Art, music, writing, copyrights and intellectual property all require asset protection and should be delineated in your estate plan. Whether you want to leave everything to your children or you want to instruct your children to attempt to get the poetry published, your instructions should be solidified on paper. 

What Exactly is Intellectual Property? 

Intellectual Property or “IP” is an all-encompassing term for items and inventions we create and develop using our own creative abilities. It refers to inventions, art, music, lyrics, screenplays, songs, poetry, sculptures, still-life art, books, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. It also includes designs, symbols, logos, and artistic renderings that may or may not be utilized for commercial gain. In some cases a person’s likeness can also be considered intellectual property. For example a celebrity’s signature or trademark gimmick could be deemed a likeness for which they are entitled to compensation. Syndication of popular tv shows is another example of intellectual property belonging to the writers and creators of the tv show, who are paid royalties each time the sitcom or drama airs a repeat episode. Royalties are payments made by one party utilizing the intellectual asset of another. 

How Does Intellectual Property Relate to Estate Planning?

If you have ever published anything, commissioned artwork or been compensated for fine arts or musical arts, you have created intellectual property. While you may not think it has high monetary value, it does have intrinsic and sentimental value,  and it deserves to be protected. Many famous authors and artists were often recognized posthumously. Art, music or writing that you have dedicated a piece of your life to deserves to be cherished and cared for after your passing. If you have copyrighted an item, published an item or received royalties, you want a contingency plan in place detailing what will happen to the asset after your passing, who among your family or friends will receive royalties as your beneficiary and any other instructions you want to leave. Depending on the type of asset you wish to protect, you might need to create a trust or, it may be sufficient to include a provision about the asset in your will. It is crucial you provide explicit instructions about accessing the asset, contact information for related parties and instructions for whom you name as beneficiary. 

Contact the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group Today 

If you or a loved one have questions about how intellectual property fits into your estate plan, it is never too late to ask. This is a complicated area of the law that requires some thought and skill, however it is crucial that you set a plan in motion to protect your intellectual property and intangible assets. Our estate planning attorneys in the Villages at Millhorn Elder Law Group are prepared to assist you today.

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