Similar to financial bequests, authors may wish to bequeath their literary works and the copyrights in those works to the Authors Guild or the Authors Guild Foundation (collectively the “Guild”). In such cases, the Guild administers the properties and retains income generated from licenses, options, and royalties. 

We invite authors to contact us at donations@authorsguild.org to discuss options for donating literary properties to the Guild.

A Gift Of Literary Properties

There are several benefits to donating your literary works to the Guild:

  • Remove the burden from loved ones who may not be prepared to manage a literary estate.
  • Place your literary legacy in the hands of a knowledgeable executor who can work with publishers and negotiate screen adaptations.
  • Benefit the Authors Guild Foundation’s charitable work without needing to devote your liquid assets.

To date, more than twenty authors have done so, and the Guild manages those properties. These estates include both published and unpublished works for which the Guild has negotiated publishing and movie option agreements, as well as licensing agreements for artworks included in the bequeathed properties (specifically cartoons). The Guild shares ownership of two of the literary estates bequeathed to it with other heirs, and in such cases, if desired, the Guild can oversee the administration of the properties and will ensure proportionate accounting to the other heirs for a small administrative fee. 

Once the Guild acquires the properties, it stands in the shoes of the author or estate and actively seeks new opportunities for publication and other exploitation of the works to give them a new life and new audiences, retaining agents as necessary. For example, we have licensed movie options to certain works and re-published series of other properties, and the Guild is working with Writers Guild of America East to provide the WGA’s TV and screenwriting members with access to the works the Guild owns or manages, with the goal of stimulating more writers’ interest in adapting the works to the film and TV formats. 

If you are married, you can leave your literary properties in a trust for the benefit of your spouse during his or her lifetime, with the properties passing to the Guild on his or her death. The Guild can assist with the legal documents and requirements, but you should consult an estate lawyer.

Remember that if you do not specify your literary properties or copyrights in your will, they will pass with the residual. 

Please email us at donations@authorsguild.org to discuss options for donating literary properties to the Guild.

Literary Estates We Manage

Adam Clymer

Eleanor Clymer (AKA Janet Bell, AKA Elizabeth Kinsey)

Michael Drury

Mignon Eberhart

Anne B. Fisher

Eleanor Flexner

Syd Hoff

Mary Laswell

Patricia Lauber

James Lucey (James D. Pierce)

Gloria Bley Miller

Frances Rickett

Sax Rohmer

Victor Searcher (E. Victor Syrcher)

Barbara Hunt Watters