Are you an entrepreneur or an artist? Whether you create beautiful works of art or design video games for a living, you may have invested a significant amount of your life into a vast — and valuable — body of work.
Your intellectual property (IP) deserves to be protected and passed on to your heirs properly. This includes rights that you may have bought over the years from other business professionals and artists.
It’s wise to consider a few things when you’re thinking about how to address your intellectual property rights in your estate plan:
- Are there assets that you want to keep together? For example, if you’re a musician, you may want one person to control all of the rights to a body of work from a specific period in time — but you don’t care so much about how other work is split up.
- Are the assets a significant part of your estate’s value? You need to have some idea of the tax consequences of passing along those IP rights. It may be necessary to involve experts in order to get a clear picture of the options you have.
- What is your vision for your body of work? You may have a very specific plan that dictates how your IP is used. If you want that philosophy to be followed after your death, you need to make sure that you’re passing the rights to your work on very carefully.
- Do you want to make any of your IP a gift? You may decide to turn over the rights to a book, a song or a work of art to one of your heirs while you’re still living. It’s essential to know how that will affect your estate if you do.
Intellectual property rights are often lumped in with an estate’s other assets. If you have a significant body of work, however, you may want to address them specifically during your estate planning process.