The desire to exert control over the destiny of assets after they pass away is the primary motivating factor for most people when they embark on the estate planning process. While conventional assets such as real estate, bank accounts, and personal property typically find their way into estate planning discussions, some people also own unconventional yet immensely valuable assets, such as intellectual property. If you are among them, it is crucial to understand how those assets fit into your estate plan. With that in mind, the Long Island attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm discuss how to handle intellectual property in your estate plan.
Understanding Intellectual Property
Intellectual property refers to a myriad of creative works and inventions that arise from the realms of intellect and creativity. These works and inventions can be legally protected through mechanisms like patents, copyrights, trademarks, and more. The scope of intellectual property is vast, encompassing manuscripts, artwork, designs, scientific inventions, and even the commercial value derived from an individual’s name or likeness. The recognition of the inherent value of intellectual property is crucial in devising a successful estate plan.
Estate Planning Considerations for Intellectual Property
The inclusion of intellectual property in an estate plan necessitates a nuanced understanding of the specific type of intellectual property, its intrinsic value, and the intricate ways in which its rights can be seamlessly woven into the fabric of an estate plan, for example:
- Copyrights. A copyright extend protection to original works of authorship, including books, films, photographs, and computer software. The duration of copyright protection typically spans the life of the author plus 70 years if acquired after 1978. While copyrights can be assigned through a Will or trust, this approach may inadvertently trigger conflicts with copyright termination rights. To navigate this complexity, seeking counsel from an experienced estate planning attorney becomes imperative.
- Trademarks. Trademarks serve as recognizable signs, designs, or expressions that distinguish products or services from others. These can be transferred through an assignment in a trust. The critical element lies in the selection of a Trustee who can diligently administer the trust to ensure quality control over the usage of the trademark, thereby retaining its protective benefits.
- Patents. Patents confer legal rights to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period. Distinguishing between utility and design patents, with the former focusing on functionality and the latter on aesthetics, is essential. While patents can be assigned to individuals or trusts, caution is warranted if a patent is pending during the owner’s demise to prevent potential probate delays.
- Right of Publicity. Often underestimated, the right of publicity pertains to the commercial use of an individual’s name or likeness. This right is particularly significant for actors, musicians, artists, and other celebrities, and its value may even escalate posthumously. Properly valuing these rights and integrating them into the estate plan is imperative to sidestep unforeseen estate tax obligations and potential protracted litigation.
Incorporating Intellectual Property into Your Estate Plan
The inclusion of intellectual property into your estate plan requires careful planning, whether you are dealing with copyrights, trademarks, patents, or the right of publicity. Understanding the specific nature of each intellectual property right is paramount. Equally crucial is ascertaining the financial value of intellectual property and utilizing the appropriate legal mechanisms for a seamless transfer to beneficiaries or heirs. For those navigating the intricate terrain of intellectual property in estate planning, seeking guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney is imperative.
Do You Need Help Including Intellectual Property in Your Estate Plan?
For more information, please join us for a FREE estate planning seminar. If you have additional questions about including your intellectual property in your estate plan, contact the Long Island estate planning attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm by calling us at 631-265-0599 to schedule your appointment.
- How to Maximize the Benefits of Charitable Gifting in Your Estate Plan - February 14, 2024
- 2024 Medicaid Guidelines for New York Seniors - February 7, 2024
- Young Adults and the Importance of Estate Planning - January 31, 2024