Estate planning ensures that your wishes, with regard to all your assets, are carried out after your death or if you become incapacitated. When most people think about estate planning, their minds immediately go to their tangible assets – house, car, jewelry, business, savings account, etc. For artists and other creators and innovators, though, estate planning should also extend to intangible assets like intellectual property and protecting the legacy of your artwork.
Your intellectual property and artwork are unique assets that deserve special consideration. The following are some things to consider and some steps you can take to help make the process easier for your beneficiaries, minimize future legal issues, and preserve your legacy as you see fit.
Choose A Reliable Executor
One of the most important decisions you need to make is who will be responsible for administering your estate on your behalf. When your estate includes artwork, it can be helpful to choose someone with expertise in this area. Certain intellectual property, especially patented ideas or products, require some maintenance like paying fees or re-filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after expiration. Your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries might not be equipped to keep up with the necessary paperwork and maintenance.
Prepare Your Portfolio
To properly account for all of your creative assets, create a detailed inventory of your work. Be sure to include digital art, music, written works, photography, ceramics, paintings, etc. Make a note about where all of your art is located, including if it is publicly displayed, and how to access it and all related documentation (i.e., contact information of curators, passwords, keys, codes, files, etc.).
If you have not already done so, have a professional appraise the value of your artwork. Once you know the monetary value, insure your artistic assets as well. Don’t forget to make a special note about any artwork that generates royalties for your estate.
Make sure that your chosen executor, as well as your spouse, your attorney, or anyone else you choose, has access to the catalog of your work, the appraisal, relevant documentation, and information about how to access your assets.
Consider Your Legacy
Some questions to think about as you consider your legacy include:
- How do you want to be remembered?
- What type of legacy and impact do you hope your art will have on the world at large and in the arts community?
- Do you want to donate your works to charity or use them to set up a charitable fund for aspiring artists?
- Should any income generated be used solely to support your family?
- Who should control how your work is distributed in the future? Should it stay in the family?
- Would you want any of your unfinished work to be completed by another artist? If so, who?
While it’s never easy to think about the end of our lives, having a plan in place can give you much-needed peace of mind that your legacy and your family will be protected in your absence.
Consult With An Estate Planning Expert
The attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri (LPEP Law) have a wealth of experience in estate planning, estate and trust administration, litigation, and probate. They can guide you through this complicated process and go over all your options to determine what’s best for your unique situation, including minimizing the taxes on your estate and maximizing charitable benefits, especially if you choose to donate your art. Get started today. Schedule your free, 30-minute consultation with the experts at LPEP Law by calling (408) 553-0801.
Disclaimer: this article does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.