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Rights of publicity

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Postmortem Rights Of Publicity: The Federal Estate Tax Consequences Of New State-Law Property Rights, Bridget J. Crawford May 2008

Postmortem Rights Of Publicity: The Federal Estate Tax Consequences Of New State-Law Property Rights, Bridget J. Crawford

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

California recently passed legislation that creates retroactive, descendible rights of publicity. The New York State Assembly is poised to enact similar legislation. Legal recognition of postmortem rights of publicity permits a decedent's named beneficiaries or heirs to control (and financially benefit from) use of a deceased personality's image and likeness. Legislators, proponents of these laws, and legal commentators have overlooked two significant federal estate tax consequences of these new state law property rights. First, a descendible right of publicity likely will be included in a decedent's gross estate for federal estate tax purposes. Second, the estate tax value of rights …


The Estate Tax Fundamentals Of Celebrity And Control, Bridget J. Crawford Jan 2008

The Estate Tax Fundamentals Of Celebrity And Control, Bridget J. Crawford

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

We previously suggested in this Journal that post-death publicity rights could be excluded from the decedent's estate for tax purposes if state legislation precluded the decedent from exercising post-death control. In other words, if state legislation designated who would hold these rights after the decedent's death, the value of these rights should not be subject to estate tax. Professor Joshua Tate, in his response to our essay, argues that under current law, estate tax inclusion would be required regardless of the decedent's ability to exercise control. So, for example, in Professor Tate's analysis, the estate tax would apply even if …