The value of one’s IP portfolio is an important factor to consider when estate planning or disbursement and can have significant tax implications. In valuing intangible assets for estate planning, oftentimes we find that there can be several types of intellectual property that contribute to the overall value of the estate, including copyrights, patents, trademarks, and other creative works. In addition, there can be another key asset of truly substantial value that needs to be identified for estate and tax purposes: the right of publicity.
The right of publicity is a property right in a person’s identity that can be legally separated from a person in a way that privacy rights cannot. Importantly, post mortem rights of publicity exist beyond the death of a celebrity and are protected in many states. In assignments involving estate valuation for celebrity clients, an analysis of the rights of publicity is added to the value of any other intellectual property resting in the estate (e.g. trademark or copyright ownership).