3 Ways to Protect Your Artistic Legacy Today

It’s important to plan ahead for your death, even if it’s a long time away. You can create a plan with the help of an exprienced estate planning attorney. This plan will be legally binding and will decide who will manage your finances or medical care if you can’t, who will take care of your kids, who will take care of your property after you die, and who will inherit your assets and artworks.

You have various options regarding who will receive your artwork. You could:

  • Instruct your personal representative, executor, or successor trustee to sell any of your artwork in your possession at your death;

  • Designate specific individuals to receive it;

  • Have it held by a trust or foundation to be lent or licensed after your death; or

  • Provide instructions to donate your work outright to a museum, university, or other organization that might benefit from it.

The First Steps to Take

You should create a record of all the artwork you own, including pieces you have sold, lent, licensed, gifted, donated, or kept. For pieces you have sold, include the buyer’s name and how much you sold it for. Make sure to include pieces that you have lent, as your loved ones will need to know who has them and when they need to be returned. Also include pieces you have licensed to someone else, as this will be a source of income for your loved ones after you’re gone. Finally, include any pieces you have gifted or donated to charities. Be sure to also include any pieces you have kept for yourself.

Once you have made a list of the artwork you own, it is important to work out what each piece is worth if it has not been evaluated or given away or sold. This will help you understand how much your artwork is worth in total and if you have enough insurance to cover its value. Your artwork can be stolen or damaged like other possessions, so it is important to make sure it is protected.

The last step is for you to meet with an exprienced estate planning attorney. Schedule a meeting with us. During this meeting, we will talk about who you want to be in charge of your affairs after you die and if you ever become unable to make decisions for yourself. We’ll also talk about what you want to happen to your art, music, or other creative works after you die. We’ll listen to your worries, goals, and dreams so we can create a plan that is tailored to you.

Include the Copyright in Your Plan

A copyright protects the original creations of an author, such as books, movies, songs, computer software, photographs, and architectural works. These works can be protected even if they are not published, but they are likely to be more valuable commercially if they are. When making an estate plan, it’s important to remember to include the copyright of your artwork. If you don’t specify who gets the copyright in your will or trust, it will go to your heirs as part of the residuary clause which distributes any property that wasn’t already given away. This means that one person could end up with the work and another with the copyright.

However, it is important to note that a copyright includes your right to terminate most transfers or licenses of the copyright at a future date. This right cannot be given away or taken away during your lifetime. After you die, the right will go to your spouse and children. This includes the right to end a transfer of a copyright to a trust. The only exception to this rule is a transfer of the copyright by a will, which cannot be terminated by your spouse and children.

We Are Here to Help You and Your Legacy

It can be difficult to know what to do with your treasured artwork. We understand how stressful this can be, so we want to help you create a suitable estate plan. Get in touch with us to set up a consultation.

750 F Street, Suite 2
Davis, CA 95616

333 University Ave, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95825

3017 Douglas Blvd, Ste 300
Roseville, CA 95616

288 Pearl Street
Monterey, CA 93940

San Antonio
18756 Stone Oak Pkwy, Ste 200
San Antonio, TX 78258

We operate on an appointment-only basis other than our Davis office.

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