Certain types of property may make your estate planning process feel overly complicated. While passing down the house might be as easy as declaring a beneficiary to inherit it, intangible sources of value like intellectual property require more planning and consideration.
Part of the value of a copyright or trademark comes from your explicit control to either share or exclude the right for someone else to use it. Protecting this control through trusts changes depending on the type of intellectual property. Knowing the basics of these differences may help you make an informed decision about how to protect and pass down your IP.
Copyright refers to original works of creativity. Novels, computer programs and music all fall under this category. Copyright law dictates that statutory heirs retain copyright termination rights by default. There are options to specify provisions in your will or a trust to alter this to maximize a copyright’s full estimated value.
These represent logos and slogans if you happen to own a business. Unlike copyrights that eventually expire, trademark rights last indefinitely provided they remain in use. You can transfer a trademark to a trust but it may be wise to include a drafted trademark license agreement to help a trustee maintain trademark rights. Failure to adequately word a trust’s agreement with a trademark may risk losing it later.
When making your wishes clear and concise with such a complicated aspect of asset protection planning, it is important to learn as much as you can so that there is no confusion when your family needs to refer to your IP trust.