Where there’s a will, there’s a way

This is not a marketing post, this is a basics of business post, as in, how to avoid having all your works unavailable, and your heirs left with a mess.

You! Yes, you! If you’ve ever put any works up for sale, you need to have a will! And in that will, you need to have explicit provisions on how to handle your intellectual property!

If you die, who can find the password to your KDP, Createspace, D2D, iTunes, and Ingram Spark accounts? Who can understand why, instead of pulling everything down and having it disappear from sale forever as your estate is wrapped up, that the books should be kept in print to provide good stories for future generations, and revenue for your spouse or heirs? What if you have stories out to the copyeditor – will they know how to publish them? Will they know what you’ve licensed to magazines or publishing houses, and when to ask for rights reversion?

This is where literary trusts and executors come in. If you think your spouse or children are unlikely to know or learn the basics of publishing, find someone you trust and ask them to be your literary executor, and revise your will to make that clear. And if you’re sure your spouse will be good, do this anyway…because if you’re both in the same car accident, what happens then?

Read the following three links:

1. Kris Rusch, on IP and Estates.
http://kriswrites.com/2016/04/27/business-musings-prince-estates-and-the-future-contractsdealbreakersestates/

2. Joe Konrath, on instructions to go in the will
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/11/death-and-self-pubbed-writer.html

3. Neil Gaiman, on a sample clause for your will. (Warning: don’t make this your entire will. Because the only thing this settles is your IP. Ideally, your will should settle all your possessions, leaving the lawyers very little to fight over and most of the money going to family instead.)http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2006/10/important-and-pass-it-on.html

Now go, and make sure you’ve got something written down, signed, witnessed, notarized, or as necessary for your state, territory, or country.

And if you don’t know what you need, start here.
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/wills-trusts-estates At the very least, this will give you a good idea of what you need to consider before you talk to the estate lawyer (who’ll be happy to explain, but will bill you while doing so.)

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Where there’s a will, there’s a way

  1. Draven

    I would guess me ‘sell half of my worldly possessions to buy lirpas so everyone can fight over the other half’ is probably not a viable plan.

  2. Yeah . . . my current will is so old it includes guardians for my children–now in their thirties. Guess it’s about time . . . and a clear addition of the intellectual property is a very good idea.

    • Yep. The standard advice (at least from people I trust) is to update the will whenever something major changes – such as a child reaching majority.

      If nothing changes, do it every five years anyway. (If you are even moderately wealthy, more often – because the dang law changes constantly, and you can be left with a provision that allows the State to inherit far more than they are “due.”)

  3. Christopher M. Chupik

    By uncanny coincidence, I thought about this very subject last week, upon hearing of my latest sale (details to follow). I don’t like thinking about such matters, but I suppose now I have to now. My literary legacy is pretty small right now, but it does need to be taken care of.