Getting Started

Welcome to the Elder Artists’ Law Project!  We hope you will find it to be a valuable resource for estate and legacy planning for artists.

You may be asking yourself, why do I need to plan my estate?  What are the steps in the process?  How long will all of this take?  This website was created to answer these questions and more on your way towards successful estate planning.  The basic steps in this process are outlined below, as well as in the tabs above and in the Side Menu.

The Taskline: Six Steps of the Estate Planning Process

Getting Started jpgInventory jpgValuing My ArtChoosing BeneficiariesChoosing an ExecutorDrafting a WillWill Steps

We understand that as artists, you would much rather spend your time creating art than planning for what will happen to your art and assets after you’re gone.  Many choose to ignore the problem altogether.  However, doing so leads to undesirable consequences. What can happen if you don’t plan your estate?  Many of us know the case of Mark Rothko, whose work was sadly misappropriated. At best, your art will be misallocated. At worst, it will be discarded. Few people want their life’s work thrown in a dumpster.  Fortunately, by planning your estate and/or preparing your will, you can protect your work from that fate.

A will is a powerful legal document through which you can designate an Executor, or a person to manage your estate, as well as specify how you would like your assets distributed upon your death, (including your artwork). However, wills do have limits. Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person’s life. This might include taking care of matters beyond what is included in making a will (e.g., managing designations of beneficiaries on various financial accounts).

Before you begin this process, think carefully about what you want to do with your legacy. If you have sold many works in your lifetime and you have relationships with museums, universities and other institutions, you might want to discuss with them now the possibility of donating your work to them either before or after you die. Choosing to make these donations may require qualified appraisals of your work and preparation of a full estate plan in addition to a will.

If you have made works and sold little, you might want to give your works away to friends and relatives before you die, so they can enjoy your creativity. Not everyone needs a full-blown estate plan. You might only need a will.

Thus, we suggest that you first assess your own situation. Then, read through this site and see what seems most appropriate for you so that you can ensure that your legacy lives on.

We created this website to help you navigate the process.  Although it is time spent away from creating art, we know it is time well spent and that you will greatly benefit from it. By devoting time to legacy planning you can give your art the care it deserves and help provide for your loved ones. So, let’s get started!