If you have a copyrighted work, then it is important that you understand what happens to it when you die. You get copyright protection automatically once you make your work public, so even if you did not register, you still own the copyright. If your work makes money, you want to be sure that you properly handle it within your estate plan so that your heirs may continue to gather the profits from it and nobody else can step in and claim credit for it or use it themselves.

The Copyright Alliance explains that your copyright will outlive you by 70 years. This means that after your death, your heirs will have the copyright on your work because it will transfer to them. Typically, if you have a spouse, then he or she will get ownership of it. If you do not have a spouse, then it would go to your children in most cases. State law will generally dictate who automatically receives your assets upon your death if you do not create an estate plan.

So that you ensure the person you want gets the copyright, you should state it in your will. This is a good idea even if you expect it to go to your spouse or child. It will help erase any questions and leave clear instructions of your wishes.

Keep in mind that whoever you leave the copyright to will then gain all the rights. This means he or she may use it in any way he or she wants. Furthermore, he or she will benefit financially from it.