Fats Domino, one of the most well-known pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll, passed away on October 25, 2017 in his Louisiana home. With songs covered by both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Fats Domino’s music influenced multiple genres. The famed musician and his wife (who predeceased him in 2008) left behind eight children and a large discography that included 35 Billboard Top 40 albums. Following the announcement of his passing and the release of his New Orleans funeral details, speculation regarding the distribution of his estate began. Overlooking intellectual property rights when creating an estate plan can lead to disastrous results.

Potential Tax Issues

Intellectual property has become a major source of income for many United States citizens and is often cited as a factor in stabilizing the local economy. Unfortunately, even though more adults rely on business or nonbusiness royalty income to survive, not everyone understands how intellectual property can impact taxes. How the property is transferred and, in some cases, the terms of the original contract affect how the bequest is treated for tax purposes. Creating an estate plan that includes the transfer of intellectual property could create significant tax problems if an individual does not utilize the assistance of an attorney and financial advisor.

Ownership Problems

Even though a person may be widely known to be the creator of a non-tangible asset, he or she might not actually own the asset in question. The Beatles’ music catalogue is one of the most well-recognized examples of music creators not owning their copyrights. Paul McCartney authored or co-authored the majority of The Beatles’ songs from 1962 to 1970 but does not own the United States copyright ownership interests for those songs. Failing to mention or explain your intellectual property rights status in your estate plan may rob your heirs of valuable knowledge and the chance to later reclaim those rights.


Determining the value of intellectual property rights and including that value in an estate plan is one thing that creators often overlook. Since the copyrights, trademarks, and patents a person owns may be his or her most valuable assets, failing to value them could lead to major disagreements between heirs who are bequeathed joint rights. The value of intellectual property often fluctuates and one of the responsibilities of the estate administer is taking steps to preserve the property’s value and avoid any lapse in ownership. Providing clear details regarding the worth of your intellectual property and maintenance details can secure the inheritance of your loved ones.

Get Expert Advice

If you or a loved one owns intellectual property that you would like your heirs to inherit discuss your plans with an experienced estate attorney. The team at MMZ Law knows that property rights are often overwhelming and can help relieve you of some of the burdens. We are prepared to answer your questions and help you create an estate plan that protects the rights you plan to transfer to your heirs. Contact our conveniently located office in Claremont, California today to schedule an initial consultation with MMZ Law.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.