Intellectual property (IP) is a concise way of referring to intangible assets or property arising out of a creative process. It can be a secret cookie recipe that made your bakery famous or a patented invention your company produced.
Those who own IP may pass the rights to these assets on to family members or friends in their estate planning documents. With a little consideration, you can ensure your IP remains protected and continues to benefit your loved ones after you die.
Who needs IP protection in an estate plan?
Nearly everyone owns some form of intellectual property, even if it is only a poem they wrote in high school. You probably will not want to address that poem in your plan. However, if your business owns IP or you earn (or may earn) money from such property, it needs estate plan protection.
Even if your IP has not yet earned you or your business any profits, consider including it in your estate plan. One day a song you wrote or an innovative procedure you created could return financial rewards. You want these profits to benefit your loved ones instead of uninvolved strangers.
What should you include?
Anything that you or your business created can benefit from estate planning protection. Examples of IP to address include:
- Business trade secrets
- Industrial designs
It typically takes a customized approach to address IP in estate planning adequately. In other words, it is not enough to instruct that the rights and profits associated with your IP go to your family.
In most cases, you need specific instructions or documents created for each form of IP you own. Someone with knowledge of Mississippi estate planning laws can offer professional guidance.