Thinking of the Unthinkable
It’s a topic I’ve covered on two other occasions (first post; second post); now we’re in a pandemic and I’m once again compelled to share important information for all the writers out there. We’re living in unpredictable times and no one can afford to be arrogant or in denial about the unthinkable: not surviving a Covid infection. I won’t bore or scare you with statistics, or with probabilities. Covid is a real infection, a real threat. Writers, you must get your Digital Assets/DA (aka intellectual property/IP) in order.
So I ask you:
If It Comes Down to It, What Will Your Writer Legacy Be?
Is this a conversation you’ve even had with loved ones or yourself? Procrastination will only draw out what could become a painful situation for your family. It’s vital you prepare for what may come. Just in case.
I wrote this in the second post on DA: “In this new digital world, our lives are complicated by our dependence on many devices, each with its own password and accessible only by you.” Your first step is to take inventory of all your intellectual property, both completed and unfinished works. Are your files backed up and easy for others to locate in online folders or another organized system? Now is a good time to get it all organized.
Your Legacy To-Do List
The following is a reiteration of a list (that is by no means finite) from a previous post; while it may be time-consuming at first, you’ll probably be glad to do it because it’s also an opportunity to clean out any works you know you won’t finish.
- Do you have a Paypal, Google Pay, or any account, in addition to personal banking, with monetary value? Who will have access if you die? What happens to the money? Whom will you designate as your beneficiary? Who will you appoint as your Literary Executor?
- What about personal and business email accounts, blogs, and podcasts? Personal and business websites? Do you want them up and running for people to read your when-you-were-a-breathing-starving-artist work?
- Do you keep a list of logins and passwords to all of your online accounts? Make sure your designated Estate attorney has the most recent copy on file or at least your computer password so s/he can access the document.
- What electronic devices do you own that need a password for access? Do you have a laptop, smartphone, tablet, DVR/Tivo, Ring, or a home burglary system? How many apps do you access from your phone? Does anyone else have the access code for your phone so they can access the apps?
- Do you bank online? What about mortgage payments, investment banking, utilities, airline, or other memberships? Which memberships automatically renew online? You’ll need to spell out which to cancel and which to keep active for your heirs/estate.
- Do you have any Social Media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube? Any accounts with e-commerce sites like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Ebay, etc.? Check the policies of these companies regarding access by another person. You’ll need to legally designate someone if you want that person to clean up your online life.
- How much of your work is unfinished? Do you want someone else to finish it? Or would you prefer your Executor/Executrix just heave every incomplete project, every potential novel/poetry book/best-selling short story into a shredder? What will you do with the work you have completed? Who gets the royalties? Who will do the marketing to keep the sales going?
- Do you have translations of your book? Movie deals? Audio books? Who will oversee these if they become options after your death? Who will make the decisions about maintaining and growing your work after you’re gone?
- Will you leave the option to own, sell, or operate your business and control your intellectual property up to your heirs? Or will you decide so your heirs don’t have to? One option is to designate a micro-publisher to oversee your work so that royalties will be properly paid to your heirs.
- What about cleaning up your personal information collected by those data-mining companies? If you think it won’t matter once you’re gone, you’re wrong. Someone could use your identity and gain access to your intellectual property and online life, and then your hard-earned money. This can affect any heirs you designate and their ability to oversee your IP or pay any monies owed. Many sites mine all sorts of personal information; you will likely need to join now to have access to your personal information and request they delete it.
- You need to be concerned with writer scams popping up all over the web offering unauthorized copies of authors’ books or scamming writers out of money. Writer Beware is one of many sites that track predatory sites and unscrupulous people trying to steal our IP. Make sure all is good before passing it on to the heirs.
“It’s a sobering experience to think of your life in these terms, but in the long run you’re doing your family or loved ones a favor by setting it down on paper.” A Writer’s Legacy, Part 2, January 15, 2019
#covid19 #coronavirus #intellectual property #digitalassets #bookAholic #storytellers #writersoninstagram #writer #amwriting #author #writerbeware
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I started thinking about this not long ago and am compiling a list of all sites that I am a member of, with passwords etc. There are a few things here I’d not thought about, though, like Paypal. I don’t use it often, but I do have an account there. Thanks for the reminder.
You’re welcome. Glad the information helped. I know it certainly help me put everything into perspective.
I recommend having all passwords collected using something like 1Password. Then be sure that the appropriate person/persons has the master password. If your literary executor is different from your main executor or legal heirs, you may need two such accounts.
I have just been through a lot of this (not with IP, but with personal finances, subscriptions, etc.) on the death of my husband, and having all web logins in one place made the process–not easy, because it wasn’t, but a lot less difficult than it could have been.
Thanks, Rebecca, good points. And sorry for your loss. Putting it all down on paper makes it easier for those left behind but not necessarily easy. I felt it important to remind people.
I still need to finish filling out my forms!
Oh wow, that’s an interesting thought to have. But I think when it comes to my own death, there’s nothing much my partner would stand to gain, and I don’t think I fear someone going through my search history, since us writers tend to have pretty interesting searches anyway. So my personal ones probably pale in comparison, lol. Anyway, thanks for this post!
It’s not about search history, it’s about personal identifiers – name, social security number, account numbers, etc.; anything that allows another person to become you or some version of you for monetary gains. And for stealing your work. I worked as an investigator for several years and have had my identity stolen (while alive) and it’s a nightmare. It can absolutely affect your heirs, if you designate any (which you might in the future).
Oh crap, never really thought about that. Thanks for the enlightenment!
Thus the importance of such a post. Hope it helps.