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Estate planning can help artists secure their creative legacy

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Estate Planning

Estate planning may seem like a topic reserved for older adults or individuals with significant assets. However, artists of all ages need a solid plan to ensure their work receives protection and proper management after their death. Planning also minimizes potential conflicts over who inherits valuable creative properties.

There are several things artists should consider as they work to safeguard their legacies with effective estate planning.

Create an inventory of artwork

Make a comprehensive inventory of all your artwork. Include details like titles, dimensions, creation dates and mediums used. Assign an estimated value to each piece, or consider professional appraisal for higher-priced works. Documentation like certificates of authenticity or exhibition history will strengthen this inventory.

Consider intellectual property rights

Intellectual property rights such as copyrights and trademarks protect an artist’s creative output. Determine who will control and manage these rights after death. This person or entity should understand the nuances of licensing, reproduction and royalties. Artists might also consider leaving their copyright or trademark to a trusted institution or organization.

Draft a will and name an executor

Drafting a will is necessary for any estate plan. In it, designate beneficiaries for specific works or general categories of artwork. Naming an executor who understands and appreciates your artistic vision ensures your wishes are faithfully executed. If possible, seek legal assistance for this process.

Consider establishing a trust

A trust offers another tool for managing an estate. It provides the flexibility to handle valuable artwork while bypassing probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive. A trustee can oversee the distribution or management of art assets according to your specified terms.

Think about charitable giving

Artists often wish to donate their works or estate proceeds to charitable organizations or educational institutions. Including charitable giving in an estate plan can reduce taxes and provide support to causes you care about. Work with an accountant or financial advisor to structure these donations effectively.

Estate planning should not intimidate artists, no matter their stage in their careers. Taking deliberate steps now will help protect your legacy for years to come.