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Estate Planning for Intellectual Property


Estate planning is a crucial step to take when you have considerable financial property at stake. However, a large home, investments, and an expensive collection of old cars may not be nearly as valuable as intellectual property. Intellectual property, such as the rights to a song, novel, or trade secrets, may continue to produce income for years or even multiple generations. Protecting these intellectual assets will require the assistance of an experienced Anne Arundel County estate planning attorney.

What is Intellectual Property and Why is it so Valuable?

Intellectual property includes the following:

  • Patents;
  • Trademarks;
  • Trade secrets; and
  • Copyright.

The valuable aspect regarding intellectual property is that it can continue generating revenue long into the future. A trade secret may be relevant for years to come, while a patent lasts for two decades, which can generate much more income than a healthy stock portfolio. Meanwhile, the revenue generated from a song, trademark, or novel can last for a lifetime or more.

Assessing the Scope and Value of Your Intellectual Property

One of the first steps for creating an estate plan involving intellectual property is to assess the value and scope of the property, according to the American Bar Association (ABA). Taking inventory of such property takes time, legal knowledge, and experience, and will require determining the scope of the property. Important criteria, according to the ABA, that may need to be thoroughly investigated, include:

  • Whether the property is singular or varied (if there is a small or large number of trademarks, copyrights, etc.);
  • The size and scope of the intellectual property;
  • Whether or not the property is unique.

Determining the value of intellectual property can be very difficult, as the value of a trade secret, for example, may be low today but extremely valued in a year from now. Similarly, the value of a trademark may be high today and worthless 10 years from now.

Who Will Receive the Rights?

Intellectual property not only benefits you today, but can be a huge financial advantage for the person or people that you decide to leave the rights with when you pass away. Whether you decide to leave your intellectual property with your children, spouse, or close friend or family member, you need to create an estate plan that will best suit your and their needs. Or, the property may be best left as part of your will or living trust. You may also wish to use this property to make gifts during your lifetime, though going over the $14,000 per year maximum gift will incur serious taxes and such gifts need to be planned carefully.

Call Maryland Estate Planning Attorney Tara K. Frame Today

The experienced Pasadena estate planning attorneys of Frame & Frame can be reached today at 410-255-0373 to set up a consultation at no cost. Estate planning for intellectual property takes much consideration and careful thought, because the revenue generated from your intellectual property could either go into your loved ones’ hands, or be lost forever.



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