Making a will

Artists (such as visual artists, musicians, writers and film makers) can earn money during their lifetime from their creative work – from paintings and weaving sold through galleries and art centres, sales of books they have written or albums of their music, or from the release of a film at a cinema. Some of that money comes from copyright – such as the reproduction of artworks on fabric or in books, music played on radio or in a film, or a book that is turned into a film. Visual artists also earn money from the new resale royalty which is paid when their artwork is resold at auction or through a commercial gallery.

Artists use that money to look after themselves and their families. When that artist passes away, there might still be money available from that the artist's work. There may be unsold paintings or a bank account. Music might continue to be being played on radio or covered by other bands. Copyright and Resale Royalties continue for seventy years after the artist or musician passes away. 

You can make a legal document called a will in which you say which people are entitled to your money or royalties or other things after you pass away. A will does NOT affect your traditional cultural practices for sorry business. A will makes sure that any money that is left is shared the way you want it to be shared. Arts Law has helped hundreds of artists make wills. Since 2007, we have visited over 40 Indigenous art centres to talk about wills and help Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander visual artists make their own wills. See ART+law article.

The Artists in the Black sample will for visual artists can be used by any visual artist wishing to make a will. We are currently working on a sample will for musicians.