Basically, our knowledge about estate planning revolves round making plans on how our assets will be distributed among our heirs, who you want to be your executor, your health care proxy, your power of attorney and so on. What most people don’t know is that as an artist or a writer, the copyright of your work lives way longer than you do so it is very important you include plans for your work in your estate plan in order to determine what happens to your work after you die.
Estate planning for authors
In an interview with Kathryn Goldman some years back she said “Estate planning is basically succession planning for your worldly goods. It’s making decisions about what happens to your stuff after you die and the fact is that copyright on your written work or your art work lasts a lot longer than you do.”
Making provision for your work
Since your work lives longer than you do –up to 70 years after you die in some countries – it is prudent for you to deliberately decide and plan what happens to your work during this time. Being an author isn’t like the ice on a cake, it takes time and hard work. If you properly plan for your work in your estate, you can keep earning for your heirs even while you are dead. This is the beauty of copy write. It protects your work and enables you to keep earning from it but, it will all be waste when after your death your work no longer earns. Alongside everything contained in your will, you decide what happens to your work after you die in your will.
Young Authors and estate planning
The fact that a proper plan for your estate means your work keeps earning for your heirs even after your death is a big deal for some authors specifically the old authors.
As for the new, young and vibrant authors, they see estate planning as a secondary thing. Kathryn Goldman referred to them as immortals.
When to plan your estate
According to Kathryn Goldman, early planning is the best as anything can happen at any time.
Planning your estate does not necessarily have to be dependent on the number of books you have written or the amount of wealth you have acquired. As young writers think planning isn’t a ‘now thing’ But it is actually a now thing because if anything should happen now, all your hard work and labor will have to be sorted out by someone else.
Right now at the beginning of your career, your plan might not be as detailed as it will be at later times because over the years you will keep advancing and growing, writing more books, earning more money, having more reasons to plan your estate and having the need to make certain changes to your already planned estate. One benefit of early planning is that it gives you room for step by step process of planning unlike trying to plan everything at once at a certain age which can be a truck load of work and can be very stressful.
Will of an author
Kathryn Goldman was asked if the will of an author contain separate things other than what every other wills contains.
As an author, it is responsible for you to keep track record of your work. Make an inventory of your work. Get them well organized. Not just your work, every other necessary detail likes your license, passwords, etc. Then you can approach a lawyer for drafting a will.
This isn’t enough; you should regularly update your inventory as certain changes occur. For instance when you change a password, make sure it is duly updated on your inventory to avoid confusion. You can decide to be making an update every six months or on a yearly interval depending on what is feasible for you. First of all, make sure your executor is aware that you have named them as your executor then make sure they know that these documents exist and they know where to find them.
As an author, early planning is necessary as the next event in a person’s life can’t be predicted. A proper plan will prevent your hard work from going to waste after you die. If you need the help of an attorney, our attorneys are always available round the clock. Do well to contact us.