Social media has opened up amazing new revenue streams for all sorts of creative people. If you’re an influencer, chances are good that you are taking care of business, and working with an attorney to protect your content and your brand. But have you thought about what happens to your brand in the event you become incapacitated or pass away? Smart influencers know that their business attorney should be working closely with an estate planning attorney to protect their content, brand, and earnings according to their wishes with a comprehensive estate plan.
What happens if you become incapacitated or pass away and your content is still getting views and generating revenue? Have you thought about where that income should go? Maybe you’d like to direct those funds to a trust for your children or spouse or to a charity? Or perhaps your brand includes a company that continues to operate, and you’d like to ensure the revenue is going to the company – and that the company is protected if you are not able to run it.
If your image is still being used actively after you pass away, your estate is still getting the benefits, so it is important to designate where you want the proceeds to go.
Alternatively, you may want to ensure that everything is shut down in the event of your passing. Many social sites have already contemplated the options for your profile after you pass away. Facebook, for example, allows you to designate a “legacy contact” who will be in charge of your profile in the event of your death. You need to appoint someone you trust to honor your wishes and manage your online presence when you are no longer able to do so yourself.
You’ve spent time, money, and effort building – and protecting – your brand. If some company in another country starts using your images to promote a product that you do not endorse, you’ll zealously protect your brand by going after them, and you’ll likely have a team in place to help you do that.
Should you become incapacitated, you want to ensure you have a Power of Attorney in place to ensure a trusted advisor can do the same for you. Your trusted contacts should not have to go to court to become your conservator to defend your brand against unscrupulous parties wrongly using your images.
In fact, power of attorney and health care proxy documents are essential components of any estate plan. Your health care proxy is a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf, while your power of attorney should be someone you trust to make financial decisions. (You may choose one person to fulfill both roles.)
Proximity can be important here. If you’re incapacitated by an accident or other emergency, your healthcare providers may need to make decisions about care quickly. Your power of attorney may need to sign legal documents and checks in person. Ideally, if you’re taken to the hospital, the people in these roles would be able to get there quickly too.
Your health care proxy and power of attorney must also be willing and able to follow your wishes, even if they disagree with those wishes.
Another key strategy for protecting your assets is the use of trusts. A revocable living trust can be used to avoid probate; it also protects and distributes assets to the people you name as beneficiaries. The assets held in the trust remain your property and are part of the estate until you die, at which point the trust automatically becomes irrevocable and the trust property may be distributed to your beneficiaries.
The specifics of how trust property is distributed, however, are up to you. You can decide who will control the assets held in the trust and establish milestones that beneficiaries must meet to receive property. For example, if you have children, you may decide that they will receive assets when they turn 18, or dole out portions of the assets on their 30th and 40th birthdays. You may also stipulate that trust assets be used to do things like pay for educational expenses. The ability to control how and when assets are distributed is a significant benefit of this type of trust.
If you’re out there killing it as an influencer, you know that nothing happens without the right team in place. You’re likely in close, constant contact with your business attorney and your financial planner – but don’t forget that your Estate Planning Attorney should also be a part of that tight-knit crew.
Each one of these important advisors has a distinct role – but they are all complementary. In a perfect world, all three of these professionals should partner together to plan holistically for your and your business.
To learn more about our offerings, and talk about the ways we partner with business attorneys and financial planners for our clients’ benefit, please contact our office at 508-532-8639 today.
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Natick, MA 01760
Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.