Monday, February 17, 2020

Author Wills

When my mom died, one of her final caring gifts to the family was a huge folder filled with absolutely everything we would need to go forward with her cremation, memorial service, and the probating and closing of her estate.  

She had even written a rough draft of her obituary and the hymns and Bible verses she wanted at her service so we knew we were giving her the send off she wanted.  

Most of us with families already have our wills in order, but, as a writer, do you have a plan for your books after you die? 

Have you included instructions about your writing in your will? Or have you filled out an addenda to your will containing details about your writing? 

Some things you may want to consider are 

What do you want to happen to your books and "name" after you die. 

Do you want others to write books using your name? 

Do you want someone to finish whatever books you didn't finish? 

Do you want books you wrote years ago to be pulled out and sold? 

Do you want your notes and drafts sold or given to a university or a collector? 

Do you want someone to maintain your promotions (website, etc.) while your books are in print?

Do you want a special executor just for your writing? Most established authors name their literary agent or literary lawyer as special executor to their writing estate because writing is so specialized that people not in the business haven't a clue. 

Here's a really excellent blog on the subject by Neil Gaiman which includes a PDF form that writers can use to explain their wishes on their works.

If you already have a will, I’d use this form as an addenda to your will since it revokes previous wills.  As Gaiman said, talk to your lawyer.

And while you are doing all this, remember what my mom did for us and build a large folder that includes copies of all your publishing contracts, website contracts, passwords, and all the other things you need to manage your professional career.  And keep your files in order, too, to save your family from having to sort through the useless junk to find the important things. 

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