Estates can include all manner of assets and more often than not, are not just limited to property, cash and investments. My colleague, Samantha Ewing, recently wrote about digital assets and the importance of identifying anything which might be considered a "digital asset" (see helpful her article here).  Estates might also include rights to music, art or literature.

The recent release of David Bowie's new TikTok channel by his estate demonstrates this. Estate releases are becoming increasingly popular; David Bowie's estate has released several posthumous albums in recent years. Whilst the specific arrangements concerning Bowie's estate or Will are not known, it is clear that his estate will continue to generate income for years after his death and his executors are taking steps to increase that income, using innovative ways to publicise his music, such as through TikTok.

If testators would like their executors to pursue similar initiatives to generate income for beneficiaries after death, it is crucial that assets are carefully identified and executors are provided with clear instructions or guidance about their management. Ideally, the executors will include someone who is suitably qualified and able and willing to deal with them in future years. Careful planning can help to minimise the risk of a possible estate dispute after death about the management and value of assets and the income generated, as well as ensuring that the estate is structured in a tax-efficient way. For example, keeping an up-to-date list of royalty or publishing rights with a solicitor or professional can help an executor in the administration process.  

If managed well, estate assets can leave a growing and healthy legacy for beneficiaries. Seeking professional, specialist advice on income generating assets, particularly those to be left in a trust, can assist individuals greatly.