FAQs: will writing for musicians — royalties, intellectual property and copyright
Leaving your royalties and rights to loved ones — your questions answered
Writing your will can give you peace of mind that your loved ones are looked after. We believe writing a will should be as a simple and accessible as possible, so we offer a free will writing service with Bequeathed so anyone can write a simple will for free.
For musicians, navigating the world of royalties, intellectual property and copyright can feel confusing, but we’re here to help simplify it.
Copyright and intellectual property is often dealt with as a specific gift to the people or person that you choose to leave it to. The first thing to work out is what copyright and intellectual property you own to gift. Once you know this you can then decide how and who to gift it to.
Your will writer will usually need to see any Legal Agreement relating to your intellectual property so they can be clear on what can be gifted and if there are any circumstances which would prevent the gift.
Yes. Your intellectual property is a commercial asset that belongs to you, holds value and absolutely can and should be directed to whoever you wish in the event of your death.
Assets that fall under ‘intellectual property’ may be the most valuable part of your estate, especially if you are a musician, artist or business owner.
When making a gift of intellectual property in your will, you will need to consider:
- The value of the creation
- The nature of any legal rights relating to it.
This may include copyright, trademarks, design rights and patents.
You will need specialist legal advice to ensure that you fully understand this. Your will writer will be able to advise you on what can be included in your will and on any potential limitations.
If you don’t have a will your intellectual property will fall into your residuary estate. Your residuary estate is what is left after any specific gifts have been paid.
Without a will your intellectual property will be directed either to your residuary beneficiaries or it will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy provisions.
Intestacy occurs when someone dies without leaving specific instructions about who should be given their property. This could mean that any such rights to receive royalties are not paid to the person that you would have wanted.
Any royalties that you are either in receipt of or are legally due to receive will be paid in line with your will or, in the event of not having a will, the intestacy provisions.
It is important that you decide where would you want your royalties to be paid, who you would like them to be paid to, and what proportion of your royalties you would like to see paid to anyone you choose.
It is also crucial to understand when any royalty payments are due to end.
Yes. As with any other asset in your will you can distribute these payments amongst more than one person.
Yes. Many people do this.
For example, you might have the original concept or piece of work contained and covered by a Performing Rights Agreement, and you may also have further original work for which you have copyright.
You just need to be clear on which asset goes to whom and on what basis these can be linked as intellectual property. Your will writer can help with this and will explore this with you carefully to understand which person should receive the benefit of each element.
If you have a legal agreement in place, you will most likely need to have that to hand for your Will writer.
This will help them check what can be gifted within your will, and to whom; and whether there is any relevant expiry date that may affect the drafting of your will.
If you don’t have a legal agreement in place, you can provide a note to your will writer of the original work that you wish to gift. This original work could include concepts, or a piece of art or music you wish to gift. Your will writer can explore how to deal with this in your will and advise you in relation to any lifetime measures and protections you might wish to put in place.
First of all, you need to ensure you have a will in place as you won’t be able to leave your royalties to charity without that. Charities like ours rely heavily on people leaving gifts to us in their will.
To begin, you will need to understand what you own and what can be gifted. Your will writer can assist you with this. Then you will need to decide which charity or charities you wish to make a gift to.
It is a good idea to consider the type of the gift you wish to make and how that will benefit the charity — for instance, royalties will continue to be paid after you die.
You can choose to leave these to a charity; however, you will need to know and understand how long such payments will be made for and what value such a gift holds.
Using our free will writing service makes leaving a gift to charity very easy — though you’re under no obligation to leave a gift.
Bequeathed have lots of articles on their website that you might find useful when thinking about your will. Explore the topics below for more detailed information about royalties, intellectual property and how to include these in your will.