This is not a cheery subject, but it is an important one. A few things recently got me thinking about what happens to a business, including intellectual property, domain names and other business assets, when the owner dies.
After the musician Prince passed away, I was surprised to learn two things. One, he was directly involved in negotiating terms regarding licensing any of his work. The Wall Street Journal reported that Prince himself negotiated with streaming services and others about how his music would be made available because he wanted to have complete control over how his work was used.
That made the second revelation even more amazing: Prince apparently died without a will. He did not have a spouse or surviving children. Prince did have a sister and at least four surviving half-siblings. Without a will, there could be a years-long court battle over control of the estate. Expect long-lost relatives to come out of the woodwork to get what they believe to be their rightful share of the estate.
Prince’s music is part of that estate. It could be awarded to one person or ownership could be shared among many. Do you think that five or more people will agree on exactly what should be done with his song catalog? Or that they will all want to do things the way Prince would have? Not bloody likely. [Read more…]