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How to pass on your intellectual property along with your estate

There are a variety of creative types here in Southern California. This includes actors, inventors, painters, musicians and authors and everything in between. Many of these individuals possess intellectual property (IP) rights.

People pass on assets, such as homes, cars, sentimental items and cash when they pass away. What happens to their intellectual property rights, though? Those can also be set aside for a designated loved one as part of the estate planning process.

What to do with patents and copyrights as part of estate planning

Wills are often most appropriate for transfers of tangible property, not intangible property. This is why it’s often best to transfer intellectual property rights via a trust. Here are some details you need to know if you plan to do this:

  • Patents: Individuals may secure these to protect their inventions from being replicated by others. Patents are one intellectual property right that doesn’t last very long. There are a few different options for transferring a patent. One popular option is to transfer it to a revocable trust. To do so, you’ll need to complete an assignment of the patent and file it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Copyrights: Can cover creative works, such as software programs, architectural designs, music and books. Copyrights can remain in effect for a long time. What is key when transferring this asset via a trust is that you provide clear instructions to the trustee about how the assets are to be managed. This will ensure that your heirs continue to benefit financially from it after you’re gone.

Intellectual property rights can provide a source of income for the loved ones you leave behind and their future heirs. This is why you’ll want to learn more about how to best transfer them to your loved ones after you’re gone.