Death of an Author

What happens to royalty checks after an author dies? I am assuming that I will have to contact my husband’s publisher to let them know that he died. Even though an heir is entitled to collect royalties if a book is still being sold, if I have to go through probate just for royalty checks it probably isn’t worth it since all of his other assets had direct beneficiaries or were transfer on death accounts.

I guess the will didn’t cover this? I would think the family is entitled to royalty checks in perpetuity but I don’t know the publishing biz.

My husband’s will left all his assets to me but so far I didn’t need to probate his will because of other provisions such as transfer on death accounts or being a beneficiary of an account.

However, royalty checks are something different which I hadn’t thought about. I know he had a contract with his publisher that specified how his royalties are calculated but don’t know if it addressed what would happen after he died.

I would guess you are entitled to them, but you might need to contact the publisher(s).

1 Like

MCarley beat me to the punch. I was going to suggest asking the publisher how these things are handled in general along with any special stipulations in your husband’s contract. The worst that will happen is that they say they can’t help you. You may also want to contact an attorney who specializes in these things.

I say this with the disclaimer that I know less than nothing on this subject. Perhaps @jimtoo will have some insights.

1 Like

His rights to royalty payments were an asset of his that should now be an asset of the estate and transferable to you. If there is no other documentation for such a transfer with the royalty payer, then the rights likely have to be transferred via the will. So, you may have file probate to get a court order providing you with the legal authority to transfer his royalty payments and any other solely held assets (like a car, depending on state law) to you. The publisher (or royalty payer) may require that to do the transfer (so ask them, as it may depend on your state law). Unfortunately, beginning probate may then require future filings with the court of other payments made to clear debts and assets distributed.

Thanks for all the helpful responses.