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Intellectual property and your estate: What to consider

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Intellectual property and your estate: What to consider

| Aug 16, 2020 | estate planning |

One of the most valuable assets anyone can own in this era is their intellectual property rights. Generally, all of those intellectual properties become part of your estate once you die.

Protecting those assets after your death can be a big job, so it’s important to learn as much as you can about your options.

What kinds of intellectual property do you have?

Your intellectual property can include things like:

  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Designs
  • Programs
  • Trademarks

If you’re an artist, an inventor, a writer or a programmer, for example, you may have a significant body of work that’s already been protected one way or another. However, you may also have a great deal of work that’s unpublished or undeveloped. Everything from your sketches to your notes could be part of the intellectual property you leave to your heirs.

The bigger your body of work, the more valuable it may be. There’s also the possibility that your work may increase in value once you are gone — so that’s another thing to consider.

What kinds of things must be considered?

Before you decide what to pass on, you must determine what can be passed on. Some intellectual property may have limited rights when it comes to how ownership can change. Others must be transferred to their new owners very carefully to avoid legal trouble.

There’s also the question of the value of your intellectual property. You may want to make plans that will allow your executor to decide what should be published, what shouldn’t and the timetable for any future publications. Your chosen executor should have the financial savvy to make sure that appraisals are done on your intellectual property and the assets managed in a way that most benefits your heirs and your legacy.

Because intellectual property is so important to your estate, it’s wise to start making decisions about how you want things handled after your death as soon as possible.