[cancer|writing] Matters literary about which I have been thinking - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-09-12 07:37
Subject: [cancer|writing] Matters literary about which I have been thinking
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, child, family, health, publishing, writing
As mentioned before, I'm not terminal now, and nobody expects to see me go terminal in the next 12 months. However, both my regular OHSU team and the specialists at Johns Hopkins whom I saw for a second opinion are confident (without certainty) that the disease will probably recur repeatedly until we reach a point where our treatment options run out. In other words, my assessment of a lifespan of two to four years continues to hold up, though with considerable wriggle room to be wrong by a year or two or more.

One of the reasonably possible paths forward is for the metastatic pattern to become more persistent. That is to say, I may present new tumors while on the forthcoming chemotherapy course, or in a fairly short time window after this chemotherapy course. Should that be the case, it's conceivable I'll never be of fully sound mind and energetic health again in my life.

To that end, I've been working through a number of issues on estate planning, literary executorship and so forth with respect to the progress of my cancer. Mother of the Child and I are meeting with our attorney today to revise and update my will, making some estate planning changes around my intellectual property assets. Chiefly copyright, but I am in fact a patent holder (through work-for-hire) and there are a few other angles. There are also some asset disposition issues with respect to [info]the_child as primary heir to my copyrights.

I spent two hours in flight yesterday reviewing among other things my letter to my literary executors, which is to say, instructions for how to proceed with my literary estate upon the occasion of my death. At some point, I'll post that here online for those interested in understanding the sorts of questions that emerge in a process like this. This was in response to a number of issues raised by my agent Jennifer Jackson during our discussions at Worldcon in Chicago.

In that same block of time I also reviewed the Deed of Gift Agreement with the Special Collections holdings of the library at Northern Illinois University. Hugo Award winning author and podcaster Lynne M. Thomas at that institution has been spearheading a program to gather the literary archives of younger and mid list genre writers with the goal of establishing a long term resource for criticism and scholarship. I verbally committed my archives to Lynne some years ago, but have been dilatory about actually signing off the required documents and arranging for the transfer of material I am currently prepared to part with. Likewise this was in response to meeting with her at Worldcon, where she told me that my own estate planning was being viewed as something of a test case due to my heavy reliance on electronic media for archival material, correspondence, etc. This has led to a number of questions and issues which needed to be addressed in the Agreement between our parties, and also flowed back into my letter to my literary executors.. I won't be posting this online, as it is a contract to which I am only one party, but I may at some point be able secure permission to post key excerpts.

This is neither dire nor morbid work, merely me thinking through some key issues now, while I am of indisputably sound mind, so that if and when end of life and posthumous planning becomes important, I will not have to deal with it at that time.

Of course, in parallel, I am looking at treatment options, disability options, financial planning with respect to my ongoing, ordinary financial life, and so forth. I will be commenting on these and much more as time goes by.

If you have questions, general or specific, please feel free to ask.

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2012-09-12 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
With my academic hat on, I applaud you for being willing and able to think through the issues around electronic records and bequests.
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User: rarelylynne
Date: 2012-09-12 15:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Once we have sorted out the collective document, I have no problem with us posting relevant excerpts publicly; I may end up wanting to publish an article about how we dealt with this at some point, and I'd certainly want to use it in my teaching of future Special Collections professionals.

I'm all for transparency wherever possible. If I didn't want the [generically rendered version] of the deed to be eventually made public, I certainly wouldn't be reasonable in asking you to sign same.

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Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2012-09-12 15:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Just out of curiosity, and mostly because this has never come up in any conversation I have ever had, what would happen to someone's copyrights/royalties if they didn't Will them to someone?

Also, Jay, I often feel reluctant to ask questions on these subjects. I haven't met you outside of teh interwebs so I feel reluctant to be so familiar. But I just wanted to say thank you for bringing us all with you on this journey. I hope that doesn't sound morbid or weird.
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Sean P. Fodera
User: delkytlar
Date: 2012-09-12 17:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you don't mind a third party response, I can give you some pointers about copyrights and royalties in the absence of a Will. Generally, such copyrights and royalty payments will go to the "next of kin", as defined by the relevant law. Sometimes, this needs to be litigated between different parties, but once a determination is made, the records at the Copyright Office and the publishers can be updated. It can be a very simple, or extraordinarily complex, process depending on where the author lived, where the author died, and where the claimants live and/or bring their claim.

The big issue surrounding author estates is the problem of "orphaned works". These are works where either (a) there is no heir (the author died without willing the rights and royalties to someone specific, or a direct heir cannot be identified), or (b) an identified heir (or heirs) cannot be physically located or contacted. These works can no longer be legally reprinted.

For example, if an author died in the 1960s at a ripe old age, and left everything to his sole child, that child would control the works, and be entitled to the royalties. But, if that child has since died, and left everything to their two children, those children would need to jointly control the rights, or delegate one, the other or a third-party to manage the rights. If one of those heirs had also left rights to a number of various heirs, again, they all need to be involved in any decisions to reprint.

There is an actual case whereby a well-known sci-fi author died many years ago, and left everything to his wife. She remarried, but then she died, leaving everything to her second husband. He disdained everything the author had written, so he refused to allow the works to be reprinted. He then died, but his multiple heirs may not even know that they control these works.

Estate planning can be a major problem, if not done correctly. SFWA and other author associations offer educational materials and advice on this topic. I have no doubt that Jay's experience will be very educational, should he ultimately post about the subject. It is always best to tie up these matters while the author is able (including leaving instructions as to who makes decisions, where royalties might go, and any limitations they might like to see placed on future uses of the work). Remember, copyright currently lasts until 70 years after the death of the author, so it is very possible that the rights could remain commercially viable through three or more generations.

Sean (as my bona-fides, I've been a contracts/copyrights professional at major book publishers for 23 years, as well as an agent and published writer) - information provided is for general purposes, and not to be considered legal advice in any given situation.
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User: zxhrue
Date: 2012-09-12 16:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

as I have said before sir, you are a mensch. your foresight and fortitude are remarkable.
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User: lindadee
Date: 2012-09-12 21:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, I don't know if this will be helpful to you or not, but I work for the law firm, Perkins Coie. We have an estate planning department with an excellent reputation, and we have an office in Portland (though they may refer you to someone in the Seattle office).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-12 22:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you, Linda. I'm good in that area. My estate is neither large nor complex, except for the issues around copyrights.
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User: lindadee
Date: 2012-09-12 23:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One of the things we specialize in is patents, trademarks and copyrights. Just saying.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2012-09-12 23:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>This is neither dire nor morbid work<<

Morbid or not, I think it's work that any writer (or artist, etc.) should do. At the very least, my Mrs. is the executor of my literary estate (what little there is of it).
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2012-09-13 05:47 (UTC)
Subject: Question
Jay, when will you consider quitting The Day Jobbe? I'm sure the financial implications go beyond you to the rest of your family, because that's how three-steps-ahead you think...but how do you weigh the intangible against the balance sheet? I admire your transparency, your honesty, and your passion...and I hope your history of living with (apparent) minimal regrets guides you to something epic.
Hang tough! Hugs, Julie N. from The Wordos
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-13 13:07 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Question
I don't have the assets to live independently for a few years, or I would already be considering it. Likewise, my need for the health insurance coverage is dire, and if I leave my employer sponsored group, I'm dead. Literally. At some point, I may go on long term disability, but basically, I'm trapped in my job until nearly the bitter end. Luckily for me, I *like* my job, and they are incredibly supportive of me.
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