Estate Planning for Artists: How to Protect Your Creations

Estate Planning for Artists: How to Protect Your Creations

Having a comprehensive and up to date estate plan in place should be a goal for all adults. The estate plan you create, however, should be uniquely tailored to accomplish your individual goals and to reflect your life, assets, and loved ones. For artists, the assets they need to protect often require equally creative estate planning tools and strategies. If you are an artist, the Indianapolis attorneys at Frank & Kraft discuss how estate planning can help artists protect their creations.

The Importance of Estate Planning

When most people think about the importance of estate planning, they focus on the desire to determine how their estate assets are handled after they pass away. While that certainly is one of the benefits to having an estate plan in place, there are numerous others as well. A well written and comprehensive estate plan can also protect your assets while you are alive, plan for the possibility of your incapacity, help you navigate your retirement years, and help your estate avoid probate and estate taxes. In addition, you can protect a child with special needs, ensure that a pet is taken care of after you are gone, and properly pass down a family business using estate planning tools and strategies. If you are an artist, your estate plan can also help protect your creative works.

Artists and Their Unique Estate Planning Needs

Artists, musicians, inventors, and writers have a unique set of concerns when it comes to estate planning. Not only are they often concerned about the management of their body of work after they die, but they also need to protect their creative endeavors while they are alive.

Sadly, there is a never-ending list of artists who have passed away without a well-drafted estate plan to serve as cautionary tales. Prince Rogers Nelso (Prince) died in 2016 without even a basic Last Will and Testament in place, leaving a Minnesota judge to decide how to distribute his estate estimated to be worth about $300 million. Michael Jackson left behind a trust that he failed to fund, causing numerous contentious court battles following his death in 2009. Actor James Gandolfini, who passed away in 2013, executed a Will prior to his death; however, he didn’t incorporate tax avoidance strategies and tools into an overall estate plan. Consequently, the estate ended up losing about half of its value to taxes. Finally, singer Whitney Houston died in 2012 having not updated her Will since shortly after her only child was born in 1993. As such, $2 million of her $20 million fortune was given directly to her 18-year-old daughter who died shortly thereafter from drowning and drug intoxication.

You do not need to be a famous artist, however, to benefit from a comprehensive estate plan. Your creative body of work needs to be protected while you are alive and after your death, taking into account the fact that the value of your work could increase dramatically at any time before or after your passing.

How to Protect an Artist’s Work in an Estate Plan

As an artist, you likely own intellectual property. Intellectual property can be defined as “a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights, and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, or trademark.” If you are an author, musician, artist, or inventor, you should talk to your estate planning attorney about how best to protect the rights to your work while you are alive.

In addition, you need to consider who will profit from the publication or distribution of your works after your death as well as who will control how your body of work will be used. For instance, do you care if the song you wrote is used as the jingle for an advertisement? Who should make that decision after you are gone? Who should profit from the use of that song after your death? A well drafted and individually tailored estate plan will allow you to answer these questions.

Are You an Artist in Need of an Estate Plan?

For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you are an artists who needs to create an estate plan, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.

The post Estate Planning for Artists: How to Protect Your Creations appeared first on Frank & Kraft, Attorneys at Law.

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By: Paul A. Kraft, Estate Planning Attorney
Title: Estate Planning for Artists: How to Protect Your Creations
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Published Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2024 17:30:00 +0000

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