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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My late father died intestate in 1994. Since he did not leave

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My late father died intestate in 1994. Since he did not leave a will his estate went to probate. I am one of his six adult children and I served as the administrator of the estate.
When I completed my duties as administrator, our attorney filed a petion in superior court to close the estate. All six of our father's adult children were named in the petition as our father's heirs-at-law. One of our father's books was published in 1975. Do we need to transfer the ownership of the copyright or is the copyright automatically transferred to us?
Michael L. Downey

You must transfer the ownership in the manuscript to the decedent's beneficiaries. You would need a court order to do this, either as part of the final estate distribution, or separately if the estate is already closed.

Once you have authority to transfer the creative work, you can draft a document memorializing the transfer from the estate to the beneficiaries, and that document can be recorded with the U.S. Copyright Office, to provide a "chain of title" for the copyright. However, if no previous registration of the work has been made, then the beneficiaries would have to register the work and the transfer document at the same time. Otherwise, they would be notifying the world that they are the owner of a work that has never been registered -- which would render the notification irrelevant.

Please let me know if my answer is helpful or if I can provide further clarification or assistance.

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