Estate Planning: What About the Intellectual Property?

Despite excellent objectives, many people do not buckle down about completing their estate planning and estate files up until late in life. Even when they do, they focus on which individuals will acquire the concrete assets– such as homes, land, loan, jewelry, stock and other financial investments.

Nevertheless, less attention is put on the intangible properties– such as works of authorship, innovations, brands and trade secrets. Many individuals might believe that they do not have intangible possessions, nevertheless, in today’s world, many individuals routinely use social media and internet tools– enabling them to write and comment through different platforms daily. As a part of the estate planning procedure, one should identify their intellectual property.
Intangible possessions arise from the creative power of the human mind. Functions of authorship, developments, brand names, and trade tricks are all produced utilizing our intelligence and imagination. While not everyone can be a popular author, vocalist, musician or developer, one might still own some copyright rights.

As an example, copyright law offers security for works of authorship. Some people are authors of short articles, books, sheet music, and site content. Others are developers of software code for numerous products, while others develop paintings, drawings, photos, videos and sound recordings. For a specific author, these copyrights last for the life of the author plus seventy years. Clearly, the next generation will have rights that could be valuable if managed appropriately.
Several years back, my customers who have actually composed numerous books participated in a long term license agreement for usage of these copyrights in exchange for certain royalty payments. The licensee was likewise accredited to make acquired works– indicating works that are based upon these pre-existing books. This license contract might continue after the life of the authors– providing an annual royalty income stream to the heirs.

Many individuals utilize social media tools every day. Decisions must be made about what happens to all of that material upon one’s death. To understand the applicable rights, one has to examine the regards to service for the appropriate social media platform. Whether the content that a person has composed has worth or not, one must decide if the social media account must remain open or be closed following death. As an example, Facebook u00ae enables either the closing of the account or the conversion of the account into one for memorialization following death.
It is essential to distinguish in one’s will in between concrete individual property and intellectual property, and particularly designate to whom one wishes to leave the latter. Intellectual property rights have distinct requirements for maintaining such rights, and they present unique service concerns to commercially exploit these rights. As an example, under particular situations, copyright law enables one to terminate a copyright transfer that was made 35 years prior. It sometimes makes good sense to appoint a specialized executor for these possessions and rights.

One should consider transfers at death that are made by means of living trusts, which prevent probate. They also permit management of intangible assets if and when one may be disabled. In addition, one can transfer ownership of their intellectual property to legal entities such as corporations and minimal liability companies, for ease and connection of management and to facilitate the transfer.
Looking at another type of copyright, trade secrets offer security for info that a person conceals. Trade tricks include the formula for Coca-Cola u00ae and the recipe for KFC u00ae chicken. There is no doubt that this formula and dish are rather valuable. Nevertheless, even an owner of a regional community restaurant may have a trade secret in the form of a recipe for unique bbq sauce or unique pizza sauce, or a recipe for a European dessert. Trade secrets last permanently so long as they are kept secret.

Patent law offers defense for innovations. The next generation might acquire the special rights to omit others from making and selling services and products under the creation. Patent rights last for twenty years for the utility and plant patent. Maintenance fees are due periodically so that the patent rights are not cancelled and lost. If one’s beneficiaries will not directly utilize the trademarked rights, then a patent license to third parties in exchange for a royalty may be appropriate.
In conclusion, as part of the estate planning procedure, a list of all intangible assets and copyright rights must be developed. One should choose how to move those assets and rights upon death, and whether to move such properties into a legal entity well prior to death. The next generation must comprehend one’s desires and be well notified about how to preserve and commercially exploit these assets. The services of an intellectual property lawyer must be kept to assist in the efforts of the estate planning attorney and the financial advisor.