Estate planning can be much more than putting together a Last Will and Testament (will) or naming a guardian for minor children, although these aspects of estate planning are important. A comprehensive estate plan can be quite complex, as it encompasses many different types of assets that a person may own. Making sure that everything in a person’s estate is accounted for will benefit his or her loved ones and beneficiaries. This includes intellectual property that may have been created during the course of running a business to make the company stand out from its competitors. Therefore, including intellectual property in an estate plan is critical. For help with estate planning and intellectual property in Georgia, consider contacting an Atlanta estate planning attorney at Siedentopf Law by calling (404) 736-6066 to schedule a consultation.
What Is Estate Planning?
Throughout a person’s lifetime, that person can accumulate great wealth and a number of assets. An estate plan involves determining how that wealth and those assets will be distributed and managed after the person’s death. Estate planning is essential for preserving a person’s legacy by allowing certain assets to be passed on to specific individuals and managed according to the person’s wishes.
While an estate plan can dictate how an estate will function after its owner’s death, it can also include directions for how to handle matters during his or her life in case of incapacitation, which can make it difficult or impossible to speak for yourself. An estate plan can address what should be done in this situation. Estate plans utilize many tools, including the following:
- Durable power of attorney
- Named beneficiaries
- Letter of intent
- Healthcare power of attorney
- Guardianship guidelines
What Is Intellectual Property?
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property can be anything from a trademark to a patent, copyright, trade secret, or anything that a person’s mind can create. Intellectual property is valuable because it can be bought, sold, licensed, and more. The creator of intellectual property has the rights to that property and can determine how it will be used as well as who will be allowed to access it. Intellectual property is unique and differentiated from the other forms of property.
How Intellectual Property Fits Into an Estate Plan
Due to the significance and value of a person’s intellectual property, it is essential to keep it protected after the owner’s incapacitation or death. As such, any intellectual property should be considered during a person’s estate planning process. Estate planning and intellectual property considerations are especially important in case of the incapacitation or death of a business owner, as carefully assigning the intellectual property to beneficiaries will be necessary to keep the business running smoothly. The benefits that intellectual property may have provided a person in life should not be diminished for his or her heirs after the person’s death.
A good practice is to keep all paperwork concerning intellectual property together and organized. Making sure that everything regarding the intellectual property is clear, accessible, and easy to understand with as much detail as possible will make transferring the assets according to the owner’s wishes easier. Additionally, as time goes by and things change, the intellectual property may grow in value or decline, and new digital assets may be created. Therefore, updates should be included regularly in an estate plan.
Keeping Intellectual Property Safe in an Estate Plan
When a person is ready to address estate planning and intellectual property, he or she may benefit from the guidance of a trusted professional who can help to navigate the complicated estate planning process. In Atlanta, an estate planning lawyer from Siedentopf Law may be able to help assess and incorporate the most important pieces of a person’s estate and strategically account for them in a customized estate plan. Once a plan has been developed, it will act as a strong foundation for adding other valuable assets that need safeguarding later.
Intellectual property must first be identified. Then the owner can determine how it will be controlled. Rights to intellectual property may be managed by the estate either wholly or partially, or they can be transferred to other named parties. These assets can be kept safe with heirs, sold, or even donated. However, knowing how much the property is worth can be helpful when deciding what should be done with it. Depending on the asset, an appraisal may be needed to determine its value.
Keeping Intellectual Property Safe After Death or Incapacitation
The United States Department of State Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement (IPE) advocates for protecting the intellectual property rights of Americans. When thinking about what can be done personally through an estate plan, it is critical to choose the right individual to name as executor of the estate. The executor has a serious job that can include a lot of work.
Everything from meeting deadlines for filing to oversight responsibilities and management will be the responsibility of an executor in order to protect the deceased’s intellectual property and other assets. These duties make it incredibly important to choose wisely. Mismanagement can not only put the protection of the intellectual property at risk, but it could also implicate the executor, who can be held legally liable for problems that arise.
Contact an Attorney for Help With Estate Planning for Your Intellectual Property Today
You put time and effort into building your business. The creativity you put into the cutting-edge ideas and processes that make up your intellectual property has contributed to your business’s longevity and success. Therefore, keep your ideas and creations safe by making sure that your intellectual property will continue to work for your loved ones the way it did for you. Estate planning and intellectual property go together for anyone who owns these assets. Preserving your life’s legacy includes listing everything that you developed and made yourself. If you are ready to develop an estate plan in Georgia, please consider calling an Atlanta estate planning lawyer from Siedentopf Law at (404) 736-6066 to schedule an initial consultation today.