Many creatives overlook a crucial aspect of estate planning – the protection and management of their copyrighted works. Whether you are an influencer, author, musician, or any other creative professional, your copyrighted works hold not just monetary value but also serve as an integral part of your legacy.
Estate planning provides a means to designate a trusted individual or entity to manage your copyrights after your passing. This ensures that your creations continue to generate revenue and remain under responsible stewardship, especially if they contribute significantly to your beneficiaries’ income.
Furthermore, estate planning empowers you to specify how you want your works to be used, shared, and preserved. You can grant licenses for educational or charitable purposes, restrict certain uses, and leave a lasting impact on how your creative output is remembered and utilized.
To begin the estate planning process, identify and inventory all your copyrights, including written works, music compositions, videos, photographs, artwork, software code, and any other original works protected by copyright. Note any contractual relationships regarding your copyrights, such as licensing agreements and administration agreements.
Next, decide who should inherit your copyrights after your passing – family members, friends, charitable organizations, or others. Consulting an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial at this stage to develop a legal plan for managing your copyrights effectively.
Using a will or a trust ensures that your instructions regarding the distribution of your assets, including copyrights, are honored. A trust offers additional benefits, such as avoiding probate and maintaining privacy.
For those deriving income from licensing copyrights, it may be important to include provisions in your estate plan for the management and continuation of licensing agreements. This allows your beneficiaries to benefit from ongoing licensing revenue. You might also consider creating a publishing company or appointing a literary executor to simplify copyright management and extend the productivity of these assets beyond your lifetime.
Also, be certain to provide clear guidance to your family regarding future copyright usage. Specify whether your works can be modified, reproduced, or licensed by others and place limitations on their use, such as in political ads or ads for tobacco products.
Ensure you register your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. Although copyright protection exists upon creation, registration provides stronger legal protection, especially if done within three months of publication or before any infringement occurs. It may entitle the copyright holder to recover legal fees and statutory damages.
Remember, every creator’s situation is unique, and your estate plan should reflect your specific goals and wishes. Estate planning for copyrighted works is not a mere formality but a means to preserve your creative legacy and secure your loved ones’ financial well-being long after you are gone.
When you are ready to craft a comprehensive estate plan that safeguards your creative endeavors for generations to come, reach out to Beaupre Law. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process and ensure that your artistic contributions continue to inspire and support your loved ones.