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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a weird question but i was curious.

What happens to your books after you die?
If you have kids, can you pass down your accounts to your kids?
If you have no kids or no one to pass down to, what happens to your books on amazon/apple/bn/kobo/google? will they still be on amazon/stores/ and will amazon own it and will it be available for purchase forever and ever?

how can you ensure your books/works can live on and on...after you are gone? is there any marketplace that you can put so the books can continue to be on sale forever & ever? i want to be able to have my own small legacy after i'm gone...on all marketplaces if possible. is that possible?

thank you.
 

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The really quick, short answer (at least under American law) is copyrights are a form of personal property, become a part of the decedent's estate, and can be passed through the laws pertaining to inheritance just like any other form of property. If you do not have a will or other document, then your copyrights will pass through what's called intestate succession (basically, a state law which decides how property is passed). In very rare instances, there are no living relatives or heirs, and in those instances, the property usually becomes property of the state.

I've never had to do this for a copyright or book issue, but generally speaking, to get passwords and access to accounts, most websites will require a death certificate and/or something which shows that the person has a right to access the accounts. In the best case scenarios, the decedent has already executed a power of attorney that allows access to the accounts.

To make life easy for your heirs, please consult an attorney and do estate planning. I've seen heirs and executors left with huge tangled messes (usually involving real property, but sometimes other kinds of property) because the decedent didn't have a will or other estate planning documents or did those documents themselves.

People who have no living heirs or don't want to give their property to family for whatever reason, can, depending on state law, opt to leave that property to a charitable organization. Some options here include donor-advised funds, remainder trusts, foundations, etc. A lawyer can take you through what options are available.

(If you're asking who can inherit the eBooks you've purchased for Kindle or another device, that's a different question. You generally only own a license to that content and that license probably says its non-transferable.)
 

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If you do some searching, this has been discussed quite extensively here.

Unfortunately, when ownership of the forum changed there was a huge purge as many deleted their posts, so some info might be gone. But it is worth searching for.

As stated above, you need to talk to an attorney, but there was some great advice shared IIRC.
 

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With a death certificate and a Will, Amazon will move your account to the person you designate. Where it gets complicated is if you want to split your books among your children. Amazon will not do that. However, D2D will. Putting everything under one distributor such as D2D would make it easier for someone unfamiliar with the industry to control. Also, without constant promotion, books tend to die on the vine. I haven't checked the other outlets such as Apple and Nook.

There is another way. You can set up an S-Corp, have all the money go into that bank account and then split the revenue among your children. An S-Corp is a pass through which means the corporation doesn't pay federal taxes, the taxes are instead passed on to the individuals.

Your books will remain for sale for eternity unless the owner/heir takes them down. And yes, they will be your legacy. You never know when someone might discover them. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
what happens if you have no will and no heirs...does books on amazon continue to sell...and does amazon & most platforms end up owning them...or do they take it off sale?
 

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blueman3 said:
what happens if you have no will and no heirs...does books on amazon continue to sell...and does amazon & most platforms end up owning them...or do they take it off sale?
In the USA, unclaimed money is reported to the state, and they hold onto it until someone claims it. For more info about finding unclaimed money go here (side note New Mexico had $40 of unclaimed money of mine, gym membership refund or something like that, I forgot):

https://www.usa.gov/unclaimed-money

So Amazon, will collect royalties, try to pay your last known payment method, then when your checking declines, they and anyone else selling your work, will report the unclaimed money to the state (not sure if it's your state of residence or the one they are operating in). States actually use a lot of that unclaimed money to run their state governments, there is a % of it they know will never be claimed. There's a Planet Money that breaks down the process. It will give you a good idea of where your royalty money will go when you die if no one claims it.

https://www.npr.org/2020/01/24/799345159/episode-967-escheat-show

As others have said, you can setup a will by talking to a lawyer, that directs where the money goes for sales of the books. You can literally donate controlling interest (and the money generated from it) to anyone, the local animal shelter, Goodwill, nonprofits, scholarships, your church, your neighbor, your dog sitter, and so forth. It's pretty inexpensive (as far as lawyer services go), and worth it if you want to make someone's day after you croak (assuming you had this wonderful author career with at least books of yours made into movies staring Matthew McConaughey).

All that being said. Copyright law only extends 70 years or so after death. I forget the actual details. Either way, there is a point where your work becomes public domain, and anyone can print and sell copies of it without any royalties to the rights holder named in your will. That's why I can make Romeo and Juliet jack an airplane and not pay some Shakespeare rights holder for it. The reason why copyright is death of creator plus 70 years in the US is Disney by the way. They don't want Mickey falling into public domain, so they lobby for the laws to protect work after death (or so I hear).
 

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American law is copyright on works created after 1978 is the life of the author plus 70 years. Works published anonymously, under a pseudonym, or works for hire are protected for 95-years after publication.

Congress has the power to change the duration and has. (As Aaron pointed out, often in response to corporate pressure.)
 
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