Wait, wait, don’t run away. This is not a religious post. This is a practical, necessary discussion about your writing, your books, your accounts, etc., when you bite the dust.
It’s going to happen to all of us, sooner or later, and writers have additional details to worry about—or their heirs and estates, if the writers don’t address it. What happens to your copyright? What happens to your accounts? Who can keep selling your books? There are lots of questions to answer, and it’s best if you think about it ahead of time. You’ve learned a lot through your journey of writing, publishing, and marketing. How many years did it take you to get where you are today? Are your heirs going to have automatic knowledge and know what to do? Probably not.
First, let’s learn the language. What we’re talking about are your “literary assets” and “literary estate.” Your writing can also be called your “intellectual property” (IP) and “intellectual property assets.” The person who manages these things after you’re gone might be called a “literary trustee.”
So what does happen to your IP after your death? That’s up to you, so start thinking. Who is going to be your trustee? How will royalties and income be distributed? Will there be any provision for extending your copyright, which expires 70 years after your death?
This article is fairly big on questions and fairly skimpy on information. That’s because each country, state, and family is different. What works for one author might not work for another, so you have to make your own decisions. I can only offer places to start. A lawyer will be needed to set up the trust and other arrangements. A will is a definite necessity!
Here are the blog posts from which the ideas for this theme were taken:
Along these lines, I mentioned accounts. Passwords will be needed by your trustee in order to manage your assets, so be sure you keep a list—somewhere, offline, frequently updated!—of your important passwords. Your Amazon.com password, CreateSpace, private printers, etc.—anywhere you do business on a regular basis. Your trustee will be able to find account numbers and usernames on the subscribing emails, if you kept them, but passwords change. Without the passwords, your trustee’s job will be much more difficult. Many companies, not just those involved in publishing, neglect policies and procedures for transferring accounts to an heir or trustee. They just don’t think that far ahead. So you need to.
We’re Dun for today, so keep on Writin’!
Owner, Adirondack Editing