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Incorporating Intellectual Property (IP) Into Your Estate Plan

by | Apr 19, 2024 | Copyrights and Trademarks, Intellectual Property, IP

Creating a comprehensive estate plan ensures your wishes for assets and loved ones are carried out after you’re gone. But what about intellectual property (IP)?  Many people focus on tangible assets like houses or investments, but copyrights and trademarks – intangible as they may be – can hold significant value. Here’s how to ensure your Arizona estate plan protects these creative and commercial assets.

Understanding Copyrights and Trademarks
  • Copyrights: Protect original works of authorship like books, music, paintings, software, and architectural designs. Copyright ownership gives you the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, adapt, and display your work.
  • Trademarks: Distinguish your goods and services from competitors. Trademarks can be words, phrases, symbols, logos, or even sounds that identify your brand.
Why Include IP in Your Estate Plan?
  • Value Transfer: Copyrights and trademarks can be valuable assets. A well-known children’s book author’s copyright, for instance, could generate income for heirs for years to come.
  • Clarity and Continuity: A clear plan avoids confusion and potential legal disputes among beneficiaries. It ensures your creative legacy or brand identity is maintained as intended.
  • Tax Implications: Understanding how IP is handled in your estate plan can help minimize tax burdens on your beneficiaries.


Pro tip! It’s often a smart idea to have your intellectual property officially owned by your business, rather than you as an individual. Some businesses even create separate entities just for this purpose. Taco Bell is one example of a company that has a separate entity just to hold IP rights. If your IP is owned by your business, be sure you also have a business succession plan in place!


Planning for Copyrights and Trademarks
  • Inventory Your IP: Create a detailed list of your copyrighted works and registered trademarks. Include registration numbers, dates, and any existing licensing agreements.
  • Identify Beneficiaries: Decide who will inherit your IP. Consider factors like expertise, potential for commercial use, and alignment with your creative vision.
  • Will Provisions: Clearly outline your wishes for your IP in your will (or trust). Specify how copyrights and trademarks should be transferred, renewed, or commercially used.
  • Consider Trusts: A trust can be a valuable tool for managing and protecting your IP, especially for complex situations involving multiple beneficiaries or ongoing commercial use. A trust can offer more robust planning and protection than a simple will.


Benefits of Working with an Arizona Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning for IP involves legal nuances. Our Arizona estate planning attorneys with experience in intellectual property law can offer crucial guidance:

  • IP Expertise: We have in-depth knowledge of copyright and trademark law, ensuring your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes for ownership and use.
  • Avoiding Disputes: We can help draft clear and concise language in your estate planning documents to minimize the risk of disagreements among beneficiaries regarding your IP.
  • Future-Proofing Your Plan: We can advise on how to structure your estate plan to accommodate potential changes in your IP portfolio or the legal landscape.
  • Ongoing Support: We can provide ongoing legal advice and representation as your circumstances or IP assets evolve.


Protecting Your Legacy

By including a plan for copyrights and trademarks in your estate plan, you safeguard your creative and commercial legacy. Our experienced estate planning attorneys here at Windrose Law Center can ensure your intellectual property is valued, transferred, and managed according to your wishes, benefiting your loved ones for years to come. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss how we can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that safeguards your creativity and brand identity.