Transferring Royalties and Copyrights at Death

There are many reasons to set up a trust rather than a will.  In California, trusts are often set up to avoid the costs and delays probate, which is the court supervised administration of an estate.  However, your trust must be “funded” in order to avoid probate or additional court petitions to move assets into your trust after you have died.  This means that the assets you can take title to should all be in the name of the trust.

When letting your estate planner know about real property, investment and other bank accounts, business interests etc., don’t forget to also let them know about your less traditional assets.  For example, copyrights and assignment of royalties are both assets that can be transferred into your trust during life and then more easily transferred to your designated beneficiaries after your death.

An assignment of copyright to your trust should be registered during life with the U.S. Copyright Office and also sent to your publisher to ensure your chosen beneficiary or agent will be able to grant permissions and licensing rights and collect the income after your death.  Assignments of your royalties should be filed with your publisher so that any fees generated are paid to your trust and ultimately can be transferred to your chosen beneficiary(ies) after your death.

Certain professional organization such as ASCAP have additional requirements that must be satisfied to properly ensure that the fruits of your labors get to your chosen beneficiaries.

Please give us a call if you wish to do estate planning or need to probate or transfer these kinds of assets.