Willing Your Work

No one likes to think about the fact that, someday, they are going to die. This is probably why most of us put off having wills or making any kinds of plans for what happens in that eventuality.

However, as a recent post on Neil Gaiman’s blog pointed out, failure to do so can have tragic results. This is doubly true for writers and other creatives that leave behind intellectual property, property that under current law has value up to seventy years past the creator’s death.

Thus, it is important to take a moment and consider these issues, with a lawyer if at all possible, to make sure that loved ones don’t have to deal with loose ends.

Reasons People Skip

Even people who get wills and maintain them often forget to include intellectual property in them. The main reason is that, in their mind, it has little or no value.

The problem with that mentality is twofold. First, though it might not have a great deal of monetary value, it can carry a great deal of sentimental value. Having spent a good amount of time in a lawyer’s office, I know that many of the most bitter secession battles are not over houses, cars and land, but over family heirlooms that probably are only worth a few dollars.

If it something that means a great deal to you personally, it will likely mean a great deal to your loved ones once you are gone.

Second, as every artist knows, one’s work only becomes valuable AFTER death. Many great artists and writers only found fame and fortune after dying. That list includes Johann Sabastian Bach, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson and Vincent Van Gogh.

Just because you haven’t made much from your creations doesn’t mean a loved one won’t be able to do it.


The bottom line is that, if you don’t have a will, you need to get one and if you do but didn’t mention intellectual property, you should amend it to do so.

It may seem silly or petty, but it’s only a few short words in a will and save a great deal of headaches later.

If you need any guidance, be sure to check out the PDF will Gaiman links to in his entry and take it with you when you see your lawyer. It might even save you some money.

At the very least, it will save your loved ones some headaches in a very difficult time.

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