Have you or someone you love acquired intellectual property (IP) rights? If you’re an artist, composer, author or inventor, then copyrights, trademarks, and patents may comprise a large portion of your estate. Proper planning for entertainment industry professionals involves a number of unique issues not commonly encountered by individuals and businesses in general. Therefore, customized language should be included in your will or living trust to ensure your intangible personal property will continue as valuable assets after your death.
If you die without a will or trust, the state will decide what happens to your tangible and intangible property. Thus, the rights and royalties generated by your work could end up in the wrong hands or in your state’s department of unclaimed property. California currently has over 9.5 billion dollars in unclaimed property and much of this accumulation is due to a lack of planning. Your hard-earned royalties could add to that number if unknown or unaccounted for by your estate after your death.Deciding whether you’d like to transfer IP rights to your family, colleagues or a charitable organization while you’re still alive will help ensure that who or what matters most to you will benefit from your creativity.
Will your family, friends or other heirs be willing and able to use your IP rights if they receive them as an inheritance? If you die without a plan, the probate court will decide how to distribute your IP and this may result in undesirable consequences for your valuable work product. For instance, the person receiving your IP assets may not be able to properly manage and benefit from these rights. In many cases, a professional can be appointed to manage IP assets after your death and to monitor issues such as infringement and royalty distributions. Without planning, your IP may be left vulnerable to waste and mismanagement.
At Legacy One Law Firm, we can design a comprehensive plan that addresses the specific threats and special issues of entertainment professionals. We will work closely with you throughout the process, explain the issues surrounding IP and discuss your options for transferring these rights. If you have an existing estate plan, be sure to inquire about our review process to discover whether your IP is properly distinguished in your documents.
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