If you take a look at the trending topics on your social media account today, you will notice that there are more than a few non-celebrities making headlines. The information age has led to more and more people getting their 15-minutes of fame for any number of reasons. From undiscovered artists to self-published authors to heroes dressed in street clothes, there is plenty of publicity for the “little people” to go around. When we think about estate planning, we usually cover numerous tangible items, but what about the intangible ones like personal publicity?
With a world that spreads information faster than ever, it doesn’t take much for someone to gain “celebrity status”. In January 2013, we saw “Sweet Brown” become an internet sensation from her interview on the local news station regarding a fire in her apartment complex, after her interview was autotuned into a song. As the video went viral, so did her fame. Publicity rights are designed to allow a person to control the use of their name or likeness. Although we often think of this as relevant to big name celebrities, it can apply to anyone.
Who is Impacted?
Just about anyone should consider publicity rights when estate planning. Artist, musicians, and writers are often more likely to gain more recognition for their work after they have passed; sometimes, even decades after they have passed. Additionally, it is possible for items like art, music, or books to continue to gain substantial royalties over time.
Importance of Publicity Rights in Estate Planning
The autotuned interview of Sweet Brown led to a t-shirt line with her interview catch phrase “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That.” Although her fame was short lived, her legacy will live on. This is where the importance of publicity rights comes into play. When planning an estate, it is important to consider the benefits and future usage of your name or likeness. Royalties may be earned after death which can be assigned to remaining family members.
There are many different things to consider when considering adding Publicity Rights as part of your estate planning and California has its own laws that must be followed. A lawyer specializing in estate planning such as the Law Office of Anne Dowden Saxton will help you navigate the different areas of the process and help you understand the laws as they apply to your tangible and intangible assets.