Death isn’t a fun topic to talk about, but estate planning is something we all need to think about, even if we’re young and healthy. We all know about creating a will and how you can dictate who will receive what when one dies, but what about willing the copyright of your books to someone? Is that possible?
Yes, it is! Your books will remain copyrighted for 70 years after your death, and willing the copyright to a specific heir is something you’ll want to set up so you can be sure your books will be handled well once you’re gone. So how do you do that? Let’s dive right in.
When you pass on, your heirs will need information like user name and passwords, accounts they need to maintain or shut down, email addresses, and so on. A great way to track this information is in a password manager. You, of course, can safely store user names and passwords for each account, and you can also organize the accounts into folders and add notes to them. It’s great to add notes on what each account is for, and what you want your heirs to do with each account. Be sure to use a very secure password to lock your password file, and don’t write it down in a place where anyone can find it. Memorizing it is best, but if you’re afraid you’ll forget it, write it on a paper and put it in a safe.
Choose and Talk to an Heir
Now, you want to choose an heir that you are confident will keep your books alive. Then talk to them about your intentions and how you would like your books to be handled, and get their thoughts. Some people may not want to manage your books, even if it’s just keeping them listed, and that’s okay. It’s better you know their feelings before willing them your copyrights!
Give Them the Deets
Once you’ve chosen a willing heir, you’ll need to get them the information they need. This includes user names and passwords to online retailers where your book is published. Since many sites also require two-factor authentication, you’ll want to be sure your heirs (even beyond the publishing world) know not to disconnect your phone until they’ve changed the phone number on all those accounts. That password manager we talked about before now comes in handy! You can pass on the password you use to get into your password manager to an heir you trust (and don’t forget that they’ll need your computer password, or the file will need to be stored in a location that they can access, like OneDrive or the cloud, depending on what password application you’re using), OR you can use a password manager that has an emergency access feature. With this feature, you can designate a trusted contact who will be given access to your password file.
You’ll also want to explain to your heir how updating books and changing prices works, so they can manage your book estate later, as well as show them how to update your website. If you have a publishing company you’ve created, you’ll also want to give them the details on that.
If you aren’t comfortable giving your heir all of this information now, you can also prepare a file to give to your attorney, who will give it to your heir upon your death.
Make It Official
You’ll want to create a will that designates what heir receives your book copyrights and your publishing company. If you don’t have a will, the state will divide your property among your living relative themselves, which is, of course, not desirable! So you’ll want to list each book you’ve published and who will inherit those copyrights.
If you have a publishing company, like an LLC, talk to your attorney about how to will the entire company to your heir, including the associated bank accounts.
Update the Information Yearly
Life goes on and things change, so be sure to update any information for your heirs yearly, including your will, any documents you left with your attorney, and your password manager.
Do you have a will set up that includes your book copyrights? Let us know if you have any tips for doing so below!
Reader is hereby put on notice that Book Cave is not a law firm, it does not engage in the practice of law, and it does not render any legal advice. Therefore, Reader is hereby advised to seek its own legal counsel regarding any legal issues relating to its business, including Estate Planning and willing book copyrights.