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Author Topic: How to Leave Royalties to Survivors After Death - Answers from the Agencies  (Read 31094 times)

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« on: January 11, 2010, 13:21 »
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This is a follow-up to another thread that ended up discussing the proper way for a contributor's family or other survivors to retrieve royalties after a contributor's death.  Since it's pretty important information, I felt it deserved its own thread.

Here's the question I posed to SS, IS, FT and DT:

"What options do the family of a deceased contributor have for continuing to benefit from sales of the deceased's work? For instance, I have given my wife instructions for logging in to each microstock agency where I maintain a portfolio so she may continue to monitor and request payments, but for tax purposes, it would seem that an official change would have to be made (payee name, social security number, etc.)  What is your preferred course of action for the survivor of a contributor? Will you need to see some kind of documentation that the contributor intended his spouse/child/other executor to modify the account after the contributor's death?"

I will post the answers in this thread as I receive them.


« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2010, 13:23 »
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Here is a response from Dreamstime:

"Thank you for contacting us. We would need the proper legal documentation that the account rights were given to the other person. This can only be done after a death has taken place."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
"So, just to clarify, you would require a will or some other legal document that explicitly states that it was the deceased's intent to change the account information into the intended survivor's name?
Does this routinely happen?"

ANSWER:
"Yes, we would need the supporting legal documents for this, such as a will.  In the history of Dreamstime, it has only happened once so far."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 13:51 »
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Great info and help thanks for the post. You can also build a company and not have it controlled by your family and yourself this will also avoid inheritance tax. At least in the U.S.

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 17:37 »
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I think the main thing is having your family know where you have your photos for sale, so they can put this in the legal paperwork regarding your estate.  The more details, the better (agency, site, ID). 

I believe no agency will change rights based on a copy of a will only - they will always require an official document signed by a judge or some authority, and this will have to be translated by authorized professionals if your country is not English-speaking. 

It may sound absurd, but I was told that even between Brazil and Portugal, documents must be "translated" by an authorized professional to have legal value.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 18:24 »
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Here is a response from Dreamstime:

"Thank you for contacting us. We would need the proper legal documentation that the account rights were given to the other person. This can only be done after a death has taken place."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
"So, just to clarify, you would require a will or some other legal document that explicitly states that it was the deceased's intent to change the account information into the intended survivor's name?
Does this routinely happen?"

ANSWER:
"Yes, we would need the supporting legal documents for this, such as a will.  In the history of Dreamstime, it has only happened once so far."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

That is almost unbelievable.  Only ONE contributor has died over all these years? 
I'm wondering if there should not be a way to file documents with the agency, instructing them what should be done with our images upon our death. 


donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2010, 19:23 »
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There are proubably more, but the survivors don't know how to go about getting the royalties so they don't bother. Of course the stock agency isn't going to question why a contributors earning's haven't been collected for awhie when no new uploads have been done but sales are still being produced.

« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2010, 20:32 »
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Here is a response from Dreamstime:

"Thank you for contacting us. We would need the proper legal documentation that the account rights were given to the other person. This can only be done after a death has taken place."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
"So, just to clarify, you would require a will or some other legal document that explicitly states that it was the deceased's intent to change the account information into the intended survivor's name?
Does this routinely happen?"

ANSWER:
"Yes, we would need the supporting legal documents for this, such as a will.  In the history of Dreamstime, it has only happened once so far."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager



I am assuming that the "once" was Robert "The MIZ" who had a large portfolio there. I have always been curious as to what happened to his portfolios. At one point prior to his death I even recall his suggesting he'd sell all of his images to someone for something like 35K ...

I am curious if anyone knows how it was handled or if it was kept a private mattter ...


-Mark
http://markwpayne.wordpress.com
 

« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2010, 14:14 »
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Here is a response from Dreamstime:

"Thank you for contacting us. We would need the proper legal documentation that the account rights were given to the other person. This can only be done after a death has taken place."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
"So, just to clarify, you would require a will or some other legal document that explicitly states that it was the deceased's intent to change the account information into the intended survivor's name?
Does this routinely happen?"

ANSWER:
"Yes, we would need the supporting legal documents for this, such as a will.  In the history of Dreamstime, it has only happened once so far."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

That is almost unbelievable.  Only ONE contributor has died over all these years
I'm wondering if there should not be a way to file documents with the agency, instructing them what should be done with our images upon our death. 



Dreamstime dates from 2003 (?) so all those years = 6-7 years... I sure hope I won't be dead in another 6-7 years.

« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2010, 15:05 »
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Not just one dead, one whose heirs presented to legalize the account.

« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2010, 16:32 »
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Not just one dead, one whose heirs presented to legalize the account.

Good Point.


-Mark

WarrenPrice

« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2010, 18:00 »
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Here is a response from Dreamstime:

"Thank you for contacting us. We would need the proper legal documentation that the account rights were given to the other person. This can only be done after a death has taken place."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager

MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
"So, just to clarify, you would require a will or some other legal document that explicitly states that it was the deceased's intent to change the account information into the intended survivor's name?
Does this routinely happen?"

ANSWER:
"Yes, we would need the supporting legal documents for this, such as a will.  In the history of Dreamstime, it has only happened once so far."
Kind Regards,
NAME
Customer Service Manager



That is almost unbelievable.  Only ONE contributor has died over all these years
I'm wondering if there should not be a way to file documents with the agency, instructing them what should be done with our images upon our death. 



Dreamstime dates from 2003 (?) so all those years = 6-7 years... I sure hope I won't be dead in another 6-7 years.


6-7 years times several hundred thousand contributors adds up to a bunch of people.  I suspect more than one contributor has died.  Any ideas on how those accounts should be handled?  Is it like contributors who never reach the payout limit?   Are their unsold files place in the FREE folder? 

Just thinking out loud.   :P

Microbius

« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2010, 18:10 »
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I would hope not, wouldn't the copyright to the images pass on to the decendents along with the rest of the estate? That would mean the agency has to keep the income seperate in case they come knocking with the correct documents.

« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2010, 00:59 »
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I would imagine that that commercial stock images would have to be treated like any other asset in an estate  or will. The will or the estate would state who is to take possession of such assets. The actual transfer ... no therein lies the hard part as you have to get the actual agencies cooperation.

 I would also imagine that it is possible stock images are often overlooked as assets or deemed not worth the effort to pursue the transfer ... especially if the value of a stock portfolio is misrepresented or misunderstood.


-Mark
http://markwpayne.wordpress.com
 

« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2010, 03:00 »
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6-7 years times several hundred thousand contributors adds up to a bunch of people.  I suspect more than one contributor has died.  Any ideas on how those accounts should be handled?  Is it like contributors who never reach the payout limit?   Are their unsold files place in the FREE folder? 

Just thinking out loud.   :P

Dreamstime only has 83,000+ contributors, not hundreds of thousands - but your point still stands, it is surprising it hasn't happened more often.  Perhaps the one case was Miz?  I am guessing most people who just dabble in microstock with a few pictures wouldn't bother notifying the family or having it in a will that their pictures are online and sales are accruing. 

With everyone's increased online activity it is going to be more and more of a headache when people die.  There could be a ton of untied ends.

Thanks for finding out this info PowerDroid - it is valuable information!

« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2010, 14:21 »
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re: Miz - he had someone in charge of it after his death.  AFAIK his earnings are collected by someone and passed to his family.  I'm 99.9999% sure he took care of it and I have spoken to that friend once or twice.

« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2010, 17:31 »
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Here's the response from iStock:

Thank you very much for your message.

I can only speak for the policy of iStockphoto.

We understand this is a delicate or sensitive subject matter, the account can continue but we will require some legal documentation.

A person can will copyright of their images to anyone. If this is the case, iStockphoto will require a copy of the legal will stating the person who is to inherit copyright, and a copy of a death certificate. Once these are reviewed to be legit, we will need a photo ID of the new copyright holder, and the account will be transfered into that person's name. The account can remain active, and royalties can continue to be paid out in the new person's name.

If copyright of images is not specifically mentioned in a legal will, we will require a letter from the executor of the estate stating the person who is to inherit copyright of the images, along with the death certificate, and photo ID of the new copyright holder.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

NAME
iStockphoto LP
Contributor Relations

« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2010, 18:00 »
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Thanks PD for this. It's both interesting and a useful reminder to ensure that the will is kept up to date.


« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2010, 18:42 »
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What IS replied would not be valid in Brazil, I suppose.  After someone dies, there is a juditial procedure to determine heirs and their share in the deceased's estate.  Just because someone has a copy of a will, this doesn't mean it was the last one from the deceased or even if there is not something else making this will invalid (such as a child born after the will was written).  Then after all the juditial procedures are followed, the judge will order the issue of proper documentation, so the heirs can transfer their share of the estate.

Or is the "legal will' something else that a "will"?

« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2010, 18:52 »
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What IS replied would not be valid in Brazil, I suppose.  After someone dies, there is a juditial procedure to determine heirs and their share in the deceased's estate.  Just because someone has a copy of a will, this doesn't mean it was the last one from the deceased or even if there is not something else making this will invalid (such as a child born after the will was written).  Then after all the juditial procedures are followed, the judge will order the issue of proper documentation, so the heirs can transfer their share of the estate.

Or is the "legal will' something else that a "will"?

Hmmm. I'd assume the agency would apply 'the law' in its own country __ once the deceased executors have worked out according to their own laws who the beneficiary is to be.

« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2010, 19:45 »
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Hmmm. I'd assume the agency would apply 'the law' in its own country __ once the deceased executors have worked out according to their own laws who the beneficiary is to be.

But is this normal to accept simply a copy of the will as a proof of right?

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2010, 10:08 »
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As of present I am going through a battle with the wicked stepmother of my fathers estate. And I might mention a very costly battle!! There was no will. Now the concern is this. When this estate is settled the monies will be divided equally between five children. Now if this person had an account with royalties, it would have to be divided amoungst five children. The copyrights would have to be divided amongst five children. I doubt a stock agency would do that seeing how they want to move the copyright to only one person.

Now if there was a will these royalties would have to be willed to one heir not amounst all heirs. Now am I right on this? or would there be a way around it. This could be more complex than it sounds

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2010, 12:29 »
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As of present I am going through a battle with the wicked stepmother of my fathers estate. And I might mention a very costly battle!! There was no will. Now the concern is this. When this estate is settled the monies will be divided equally between five children. Now if this person had an account with royalties, it would have to be divided amoungst five children. The copyrights would have to be divided amongst five children. I doubt a stock agency would do that seeing how they want to move the copyright to only one person.

Now if there was a will these royalties would have to be willed to one heir not amounst all heirs. Now am I right on this? or would there be a way around it. This could be more complex than it sounds
I can't answer your specific question, and circumstances may vary by country. Maybe this is an argument for being independent, have a lucky dip where each child picks out an agency and that's theirs. You'd need to have the same number of agencies as beneficiaries, and if one folds, it's the 'luck of the draw'.
Just a thought.

« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2010, 15:47 »
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donding, sorry for the problems.

I believe the copyright isn't changed, the heirs only have the rights to receive the earnings and negotiate the images (or whatever is the copyrighted material). Isn't it so?

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2010, 15:54 »
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donding, sorry for the problems.

I believe the copyright isn't changed, the heirs only have the rights to receive the earnings and negotiate the images (or whatever is the copyrighted material). Isn't it so?

This battle over my father's estate has been going on over a year now. Anyway as for copyright I believe the rights are left to heirs through the executor of  the estate. I think that's how it works. I know my Aunt was the executor of my grandmothers estate and she  ended up with the copyrights to a book that was published. I nassume it would be the same for photos.

lisafx

« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2010, 18:37 »
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Sorry to hear about your situation Donding.  I have a step-mother like that too.  My father is in late stages of a degenerative illness so I imagine I will be facing a similar nightmare in the future.

Thanks, Powerdroid, for starting this thread. This is very good information to have.

I had figured I would be covered because I have a corporation and my husband is VP, but my accounts and copyrights are still in my name.  Maybe I should change them to be in my corporations name? 

I don't even have a will.  Just assumed that everything I have will go to my husband if I die or our (only) child if we are both dead.  Sounds like a will would really simplify things as far as the stock royalties go. 

God, I hate dealing with lawyers.  Guess I'm going to have to, though.


 

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