Wills for Writers

October 31st, 2006

No, not Shakespeare or Prince William.

Neil Gaiman points out, with useful illustrations, why anyone with literary property (is that you?) should have a will. Like, right now.

Years ago, my friend Steve Popkes and I agreed to be each others’ literary executors. It sounds a little pretentious–like talking about my presidential library. But the fact is that I’ve published ten novels and bunches of short fiction and other stuff, and when I die (because sadly, there’s no if about it) my beloveds would have no clue what to do with it. But Steve would.

If you have kids, you probably have a will (if you don’t, get on it, unless you want the State, or your dotty Aunt Grizelda, raising the sprats after your demise). You can add a codicil regarding literary executorship. If you haven’t got a will, get on it. Even if you don’t care what happens to your spoon collection or your second best waffle-iron after you die, I suspect that you do care whether your literary output is sold for quitclaim rights to Engulf and Devour’s Videogame Department.

Get on it.

2 Responses to “Wills for Writers”

  1. ianon 03 Nov 2006 at 1:48 am

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/books/white-treasure-unearthed/2006/11/02/1162339985898.html

    White’s literary treasure found
    Email Print Normal font Large font By David Marr
    November 3, 2006

    The old bastard. Patrick White told the world over and over again that none of this existed. “Don’t bother hunting for drafts and manuscripts,” he snapped when I asked years ago. “They’ve all gone into the pit.”

    “They hadn’t. Stuffed into cupboards and drawers in his house”

    “This hoard was offered to the National Library in mid-August. ”

    “That’s what his will directed his literary executor Barbara Mobbs to do, but White’s forthright old friend and agent told The Age: “I couldn’t burn them in a blue fit.” ”

    “Courts have held that these destruction clauses can’t be enforced,”

  2. Madeleine Robinson 03 Nov 2006 at 2:08 am

    That’s why you have to have a person in place who will do what you ask. Preferably someone who knows that if they want their work destroyed after her death, and relies on you to take care of that.

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