Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges, the famous writer and poet, is one of the most recent in a long line of well-known creatives whose family members are left scrambling to determine who owns the rights to their works. This week, a court in Argentina determined that the five nephews of Borges' widow, who died in March, have the right to all of Borges' widow's possessions, including Jorge Luis Borges copyrights and some valuable manuscripts.
Why was it left to the court to make this important (and potentially lucrative) decision? When Borges died in 1986, he left his wife as his only heir. Then in March of this year, she died without a will.
To avoid leaving the fate of your creative works up to a court, artists, writers, computer programmers, cartographers, inventors and other content creators should make sure to have an estate plan that will transfer not only the works themselves (manuscripts, paintings, but the often more-valuable copyrights of the works. This can be done via will, or to control ownership of the copyrights after the death of the first beneficiary, via a trust or through the creation of a business entity.
(For more information about the fate of Borges' copyrights, see the Associated Press' June 28, 2023 article in The Guardian. www.theguardian.com.)