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  • Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by EmmaD at 12:52 on 08 January 2014
    Make a will that takes account of your literary property, says Neil Gaiman, and he's right. It's genuinely, really important, even if you're only a "weekend writer" with a few short stories to your name. Would you want your estranged parent or ex-spouse to be in control of your favourite story when Hollywood comes knocking, say, and your current partner, who was there when you wrote it and is your best reader as well as your best friend, to be sidelined?

    http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2006/10/important-and-pass-it-on.html
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by Alex29 at 20:42 on 08 January 2014
    Good point- I have to decide who gets my Mum's diaries when I snuff it - she is still writing them at the moment! If someone bins my work fine but I would hate for them to trash her story.I already know I couldn't work the material. Perhaps a Uni would take them - this has reminded me to look into it - Thanks Emma! MC
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by calliaphone at 22:36 on 08 January 2014
    My husband and I were making very basic wills, and were told that we needed to write a "letter of wishes" to deal with things like who gets my data/notebooks/objects of sentimental value etc, as they had no financial value so couldn't be included in the will proper. i was just thinking "must get on with that" when ... hey, ho, pregnant, gotta re-write the will anyway. so it'll be interesting to see if a more complex will includes things like the writing or not.
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by Catkin at 01:03 on 09 January 2014
    Actually, Calli, that sounds a bit strange to me, because I can't see any reason why something of little or no financial value can't be included in a will. My understanding was that anything could be included. Have I been wrong about that all these years?



     
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by Alex29 at 07:09 on 09 January 2014
     If it is property it is property which if you leave everything to one person is probably fine  but if it is more complicated you run the risk of something getting forgotten and if it becomes Residue there is a risk unless that is clearly allocated to someone. It is also at risk of people claiming to be dependent who you might not think are. 
    We have the letter described above to cover detail regarding what happens to any dogs and ponies, farm stock and the haulage business's I have at the time I snuff it and I any specific wishes ie leaving my Wellies to someone - because that is likely to change if I live a good few more years I will have out lived the animals and these Wellies  and  the replacement ones  wouldn't then be covered- so would go to Residue and they would have different needs - which would worry me!
     Wills need to be clear and specific or it is all added to the Residue of the Estate and if you haven't stipulated who gets THAT it goes under the rules on intestacy ie your legal next of kin IN ORDER so that is where your writing could go to someone you don't even know!.
    It is cheaper and easier to amend detail in a letter to keep it up to date- say once a year - and attach it to the will than it is to get the whole will done again. I got ours done a few years ago it after dealing with my sister in law's early death intestate which reminded me to get it sorted. But I wasn't writing then like I am now and my biggest worry then was if G and I were taken out together in an accident Mum wouldn't be able to cope with the farm or the dogs so we have a hugely detailed set of instructions allowing/advising the solicitor how to get that sorted straight away.
    So- if you write two novels and one is mentioned by name don't assume the other one will be treated the same way it won't - unless specified and if it comes to a legal fight - because it usually does with money - a vaguely worded letter or will which mentions 'writings' will loose the Estate most of its funds and worth in legal fees- for a start would it include poems, note nooks, essays, letters other things that are not the finished book? If you think about how many books about 'letters' there are? That gives a canny someone you never heard of, an inheritance to fight for... Ok so my old Thank You notes wouldn't fill a Penguin but yours might.
    Saying WHY you are leaving the instructions in the letter the way they are may also help if the Will needs to be defended against claims of 'not being in right mind'  or dependency etc as it gives a view from you on your clear intention as witnessed by...
    Don't rely on the above being accurate get it checked- my Law Degree studies were a long time ago now and it is only Emma's post that has had me dragging it out of the recesses of my brain! I am going to to change our letter ASAP re my writing now. MC
    Edited by Alex29 at 07:31:00 on 09 January 2014
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by Catkin at 10:17 on 09 January 2014

    It is cheaper and easier to amend detail in a letter to keep it up to date- say once a year - and attach it to the will than it is to get the whole will done again


    Ah, so this letter is a formal thing with proper legal force? That makes sense, and it does make sense to have something like that to update rather than making a whole new will. I'd never heard of this letter before. It does sound like a good idea.
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by EmmaD at 11:30 on 09 January 2014
    Very useful, Alex29, thank you.

    Mind you, I think a letter only expresses your desires - it may clarify things, but the executors can override it if they want to. 

    Whereas a codicil is a proper extra will, tagged onto the existing one. You certainly don't have to make a new, full-blown will when things change: for example, you'd probably make a brand new will when you had children, but you might only need to make a codicil if one of them turned out to have special needs and you wanted to make doubly sure they were okay if you went under a bus.

    Note - I am NOT a lawyer! Do take proper advice.

    And on intellectual property, the Society of Authors have a leaflet:http://www.societyofauthors.org/guides-and-articles

    Don't forget that copyrights, like other intellectual property, have a value for the purposes of probate, even if it hasn't been realised yet. Yet another reason to think about who might handle your literary estate - chaffering with HMRC over the value of a book which has earned you an advance and will earn in the future but isn't exactly like a painting or a house or a bunch of shares, can get complicated...
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by Alex29 at 11:47 on 09 January 2014
    Yes it is stated in the Will that the letter exists- ie ours is also at the Solicitors with the Will but if you don't keep it there you need to keep it with it - even write in the Will where it is and it needs to be formally noted it has been updated etc to replace other instructions - again any vagueness will take someone back to Court to prove your intent resulting in cost and delay. A lost letter is likely- in my opinion- to end up with the subject material being put in the Residue and then divided between Next of Kin as I think that would be seen to be strictly fair in the absence of evidence to the contrary.  Pets especially are often left in limbo and in the hands of over stretched animal welfare charities and they can  be fought over by relatives  when may be a neighbour or friend has had the pet at their own expense for months and the pet is quite settled there and probably of no cash value! Grief brings out funny things in people! If you have something someone else wants and values even with a strong Will they will still come after it. But the clearer and more up to date the info is the better chance you have of your wishes being carried out. Do be advised by a competent Solicitor though or Citizens Advice if you have a particular need. I am not qualified this is just an opinion. 'A little knowledge is dangerous' .MC
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by calliaphone at 21:56 on 10 January 2014
    Actually, Calli, that sounds a bit strange to me,
    Hmm, well, it's just possible I have garbled things a little frown (Alex29's post makes a lot more sense than mine).

    I think it had something to do with us using a very simple will-making service  provided through our bank - it was a sort of proforma thing to fill in, that then gets turned into a will, but it only works if you're able to keep things very simple. We have a relatively straightforward family situation, so it seemed appropriate, but the will couldn't cope with anything fine-grained like leaving specific items of sentimental value to specific people - hence the need for an accompanying letter of wishes. 

    I did actually try to find a solicitor to help, but every one I spoke to said "oh, I don't do wills". Which was a bit baffling! I'm going to have to find someone now though, I guess. I just wish I had a clue where to start.
     
    Edited by calliaphone at 21:57:00 on 10 January 2014
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by EmmaD at 22:15 on 10 January 2014
    Good run-down here:

    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/free-cheap-wills

    on the various options, including the Which? scheme, charities (you don't have to give them a donation), and how to find a cheap solicitor. "Mirror wills" for you and your partner are often not much more than a single wills.

    Having said that, intellectual property like copyrights isn't entirely straightforward, so at the very least I'd suggest reading the SoA's leaflet: if what you want to do is straightforward, a decent solicitor could no doubt write a straight-forward paragraph setting out what you want.
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by calliaphone at 23:05 on 10 January 2014
    That is super helpful, thanks Emma!
  • Re: Who gets your stories when you die? Are they the right person?
    by Alex29 at 07:09 on 11 January 2014
    Am surprised your Solicitor didn't do Wills they are bread and butter stuff. Not usually too expensive either and some do fixed rate deals  or even free offers and the first consultation is often free as well- ours handed over a load of bumph which we took away and read and it walked us through the forms there was little face to face contact we took it back went through it they reproduced the stuff and we signed it. As usual with these things the admin can be slow in some firms- it is probably just me but I prefer to deal local and small with Solicitors one I can actually grab the person who is doing the task - when they write it for you watch that the tone and intention IS clear - it may not mean much to the person doing the typing as they are unlikely to have been at the face to face - I think I had ours done twice in the end! As our contains detail of some difficult choices regarding much loved pets and animals it was quite hard to sign which I wasn't expecting  Good Luck MC
    Edited by Alex29 at 07:16:00 on 11 January 2014