Intellectual property rights consist of legal rights you can claim on your creations. In other words, under the law if you invent or create something new, you can have the right to take credit for and profit from your invention. Once they are registered, others cannot use these creations for profit or take credit for them without permission or compensation. These rights include such items as trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets.
Intellectual Property Rights Should be Protected
In this day and age, intellectual property rights are some of the most valuable assets in a portfolio, and they do not have to go through probate when you die, if you plan ahead. Your estate can easily pass on your intellectual property rights to your heirs. An owner can often overlook their intellectual property rights during the estate planning process, because of their “intangible” nature. When something can’t be seen, touched or held, many people just don’t think of it as devisable or subject to probate.
It is important that your estate plan takes into account intellectual property rights. These rights are not any different from other property rights when it comes to estate planning. In a sense, you can think of them as an asset just like a piece of real estate. They can be passed on to a beneficiary by listing them in your will or trust.
Different Intellectual Property Rights
If you own a trademark, it is good to know that the life of a trademark is endless, as long as the mark continues to be used and renewed. So if you own a trademark, take the time to make certain it is included in your estate plan and your heirs are educated about how to protect your intellectual property rights in that asset.
The intellectual property rights of trade secrets live on forever, as long as they are kept secret. If you have a business that is using a trade secret, now is the time to educate your heirs about the importance of your trade secret and how to protect it. Trade secrets should be included in your estate planning. They can be passed on to your heirs.
A patent is issued by the government giving the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time, usually twenty years. This lets the inventor have time to profit from the invention, but also gets the idea into commerce for future use by others. A patent can be devised to your heirs.
A copyright is an intellectual property that by its very definition outlives its creator. By statute, a copyright continues for 70 years after the death of the “works” author. I know a woman who wrote a simple child’s song. It was sung before her death, but the popularity of the song has greatly increased since her death. Her son profits more from the song than she ever did. Think of celebrities you know who have passed away recently, and you still enjoy their work, so you can understand the importance of their intellectual property rights. Their earnings can be passed to the beneficiaries of their estate.
In my book, Protecting Your Financial Future, I review estate planning basics and their importance. Estate planning gives you peace of mind that you have taken care of things that matter most for your family.
Therefore, if you have authored a book, a song or computer program, you have intellectual property rights to leave to your loved ones. Likewise, if you have a ground-breaking invention or have built a business whose name and goodwill have value, take time to make certain the intellectual property rights go to the people you choose.
My uncle who was the best selling author was diagnosed with a terminal disease and he wants to settle his affairs right away. It was discussed here that his intellectual property rights can be passed onto his heirs and not go through probate. Moreover, it’s advisable to hire an experienced estate planning attorney for the best outcome.
My dad has written a few books on figures in our family history that he’s had published, though he still retains the rights to them. He’s considering consulting with an estate planner soon now that he’s hit the big 60 and it’s good to know that a copyright continues for 70 years after the death of the author. I’ll let my dad know to bring that up when he’s doing consultations so he can find someone who can help him assign the copyright after he’s passed.
The copyright could be assigned to his living revocable trust, and managed by the successor trustee. If you have issues or want our help on his trust, let us know.
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