When you’re answering the difficult questions around how to manage your literary estate after you pass away, there are a few points you need to keep in mind that can be helpful when naming your literary executor.
First of all, provide clear instructions in your trust or will for your literary executor that explains their specific authority related to your literary work and associated literary property after you pass away. The main executor will otherwise have control of all of the work, and this means that your main executor will have fiduciary responsibility that serves all of the estate.
What is a Literary Executor?
A literary executor might not be necessary for every author. This is the case if your estate is not complex or doesn’t generate a significant amount of income. The primary executor of your trust or will might be able to manage estate disposition and ongoing literary estate activities if it is not complicated.
A good benchmark to keep in mind when thinking about hiring a literary executor is to consider whether or not your estate has less than $100,000 in it and if the copyright-protected work produces very little income, that doesn’t call for literary executor. If there is substantial income from multiple books, however, or other complicated circumstances, it’s a good idea to appoint a specific literary executor.
If your estate includes various licenses and published books under your intellectual property, a literary executor has the responsibility of notifying licensees and publishers about your death and determining how royalties should be paid.
Decide whether a trust or will includes a list of literary properties and in what manner. The organizations or persons to which rights will be passed and copyrights granted after you pass away should also be named. Don’t forget about cover art contracts as well, so that there are no conflicts about who owns the cover art. A literary executor can be very beneficial when you have multiple people inside your estate who may be benefitting from your literary works.
Furthermore, don’t forget to create a list of the online accounts that your executor might need to review. This includes social media, online forms, passwords, and websites. Don’t forget to include domain registrations and expiration lists. If you have unpublished works inside your literary estate that you hope will remain unpublished, then name these specifically.
Remember that the term of your individual copyright is for the life of the author plus a renewal term of 70 years. If the next of kin are dead when the author passes away, the literary executor has to file the renewal in the name of the estate. Copyright renewal rights typically vest based on the author’s heirs. At Royalty Reminder, we strive to help gather all of the necessary materials that you will need to protect your license rights.