Estate planning and your intellectual property

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Without a doubt, San Jose is a hotbed of intellectual creativity. Whether you are a programmer, inventor, author or artist, you take great pride in your work. You also have a financial interest in it. To protect your intellectual property, you may have chosen to obtain a patent, trademark or copyright. You may also have trade secrets that are uniquely valuable. 

While it is common to focus on tangible assets when planning your estate, your intellectual property is equally important. If you want to pass your work product, thoughts or ideas to your heirs or anyone else, understanding how to integrate intellectual property into your estate plan is essential. 

Catalog your intellectual property  

Before beginning the planning process, you must carefully catalog your intellectual property. Doing so, however, involves more than just listing the intellectual property you own. That is, you must note when licenses expire. You also must be sure you keep up with other requirements for preserving your ownership interest. Finally, if you have pending patents or trademarks, you should note where each is in the process. 

Understand your options 

When planning what happens to your intellectual property after your death, you likely have a few options. For example, you may be able to pass ownership to an heir. If you go this route, your plan should contain details regarding how you want to preserve ownership rights. 

Alternatively, you may be able to place your intellectual property into a trust. If your work generates royalties or other income, the trust’s beneficiaries may benefit from this approach. Note, though, you must be certain your ownership rights are transferrable. You likely also want to consider any tax implications that may stem from your estate plan. 

Virtually everyone can benefit from a well-written estate plan. With a bit of effort, you can likely control what happens to your intellectual work product.