Estate Planning for Creators with Marian Hebb

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 11:48 AM | Lena Coakley


For January 13, 2016


“Many of us don’t think about our careers beyond our next royalty cheque,” said CANSCAIP President Sharon Jennings as she began the January meeting, “but tonight we’re here to talk about what happens to our work in the long term—about how we can control and protect our careers even after we are gone.” 

Our guest for the evening was Marian Hebb, here to talk about Estate Planning for Creators.


The NEWS is here!

Sharon directed us to the latest issue of CANSCAIP NEWS, which includes her column on being in despair as a creator, Marsha Skrypuch’s "Meet the Professional" interview with Forest of Reading director, Meredith Tutching, and VP Lena Coakley’s article on "Worldbuilding for Fantasy Authors." The featured creator is two-time GG winner, Caroline Pignat.

Having an book launch or event?

In the interest of supporting each other, the CANSCAIP office is now announcing events like book launches through the CANSCAIP email. Tell the office about your upcoming events and we would happy to spread the news! We’d like to support each other.  (Email

Canadian Writers’ Summit

Helena, our administrative director, informed us that CANSCAIP will be part of a new multi-organization conference that will take place June 16-19. There will be sessions on writing craft, aboriginal writers, cover design, copyright issues etc. Kenneth Oppel will be CANSCAIP’s keynote speaker on the 18th and Jean Little will be the Writers Union keynote.

Helena is on the planning committee (Go Helena!) so the kids books world will be well represented. 

Packaging Your Imagination

Our annual conference will be back at Humber in November. Dates to be announced.

Writing for Children Competition

We had a record number of entries this year which has resulted in a few delays. Winners will be announced in February.

Volunteers Needed!

Are you interested in volunteering for CANSCAIP? We need help in the following areas:

  • Blue Pencil Mentoring Program (organizer)
  • Writing for Children Competition (coordinating for next year)
  • Marking 

Email Helena if interested. Volunteers do not need to be local to the Toronto area.


Teresa Toten’s novel, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, has won ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, given to a book that embodies the disability experience. 


The legendary Paulette Bourgeois took the floor. “It’s been a long time since I stood up with a new book,” she said.  Paulette told us that after her success with the Franklin series, she went back and did an MFA in creative writing for screenwriting. Though many of her screenplays have been optioned, none were made.  However, she was asked to write a novelization of producer Anne Tait’s film, Iron Road. Her new book  Li Jun and the Iron Road is is a historical novel for young adults about a Chinese girl who dresses as a boy and joins thousands of Chinese men blasting a path for the new railway through the "impassable" Rocky Mountains. From Dundurn Press.

Vice President Lena Coakley told us about her new book, Worlds of Ink and Shadow. The book is a YA portal fantasy based on the fantasy worlds created by the famous Bronte siblings.  Lena did quite a bit of research for the book including traveling to the Bronte parsonage in Yorkshire twice, where she was allowed to study in the parsonage archives. 

Jennifer Maruno was delighted to announce that she had completed the third book in her series about Michiko Minagawa, a girl of Japenese heritage living in Canada around the time of the second world war. Cherry Blossom Baseball was launched this month to a large crowd. In this installment Michiko must once again adjust to a new situation as the only Japenese student in her school—until Eddie Adams, seeing her amazing baseball skills encourages her to try out for the all boys local team. When the truth comes out, there are consequences to face. She has to make a decision: Play ball amid all the harassment, or pitch like she's never pitched before. From Dundurn.


Paulette Bourgeois introduced our speaker, saying, “I have known Marian Hebb since 1986. A publisher was interested in my new book, then called The Turtle They Called Chicken. I joined the Writers Union and saw they had a brochure called “Help Yourself to a Better Contract.”  I turned it over, saw Marian’s name, and decided then and there to hire her to negotiate my contract.

Since then Marian has worked tirelessly for authors. If you have received an Access Copyright payback, you should thank Marian because she was instrumental in securing those rights for authors. She is a founder and past chair of Artists’ Legal Advice Services, a governor of the Canadian Copyright Institute, and a member of the joint copyright legislation committee of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and the Canadian Bar Association.

There is now an Access Copyright research grant in the arts in her name (The deadline has been extended to February 16th if you are interested!), and she was the lawyer for the heirs of the LM Montgomery estate. 

“You own copyright,” Marian began. “This distinguishes you from many others who make wills.”

Marian went on to advise us that in Canada, everyone should have a will.  However, she told us a surprising fact. Many writers and illustrators who DO have wills, forget to mention copyright! Often a lawyer may not know to advise you on this important consideration. Remember to bring this up when making a will.

If you will be making a will soon, here are some things to consider thoroughly:

1) Figure out what is part of your literary estate. Keep good records for your heirs. Upon your death your executors should have all your contracts and other information such as lists of where your work is published, your latest royalty statements, your agency contract, etc.  DON’t give your current contracts to an archive because they won’t be able to find them when needed. DON’T rely on your publisher to have copies of contracts. This is not their responsibility. 

Keep in mind that your copyright assets also include stories in anthologies, joint authorship, and sound recordings of your work.

2) Do you need a literary executor?

Some people will name a literary executor in addition to their executer. This person would handle all matters regarding your works under copyright.

Family members are the first place to look for a literary executor. They have an interest in keeping your work alive. Young family members such as a grandchild might be a good choice as your heirs will own copyright for many years into the future.

If you don’t name a literary executor, your general executor will take on the task of dealing with your copyrighted work. This may be fine for you as well. A middle-ground option would be to name a “literary advisor” who wouldn’t have legal rights but can advise your executor.

3) Consider: What happens when those executors are gone? If you appoint a literary executor and they die, their executor becomes yours. Do you want that?

4) Consider: Do you want the work you haven’t finished destroyed? Kept? Continued by someone else? If you are an artist/illustrator, what do you wish to happen to your unsold work?

Because you don’t know how publishing will change after you die, it’s sometimes better to leave some of these decisions to your executors and heirs. Often it’s preferable to find an executor you trust than to try to lock-in your decisions in your will. You can direct your executor with a letter that is not legally binding but which spells out your wishes.

About Your Copyright

  • Copyright begins when something is published or recorded. 
  • To have copyright there must be a degree of originality. 
  • Creators also have moral rights that most countries recognize. They help artists retain the integrity of their work.
  • Creators can waive their moral rights but, unlike copyright, can’t give them to someone until they die.
  • In Canada copyright runs out 50 years after death. This will change if Canada signs the TPP agreement. Then it will be extended to 70 years.
  • In most of the rest of the world, moral and economic rights already last 70 years after death.
  • Although Marian isn’t in favor of TPP for other reasons, she does believe that copyright should be extended to 70 years. 50 years after death isn’t always enough time for heirs to publish. There can be sensitive issues. 
  • On the death of a creator, moral rights and economic rights pass to the person you have named in your will, or if no one is named, the law figures out next of kin.
  • Canada’s copyright law is not clear about whether things on your website published or unpublished.

Marian ended with a wrap-up of what she considers her three most important points:

Have a will!

Have the word copyright in your will!

Keep copies of current contracts!

Our next meeting will be on February 10th and will be in Illustrators’ Night with Gary Clement!


  • Wednesday, January 27, 2016 9:13 AM | Jan L. Coates
    Great notes - lots to think about! Thanks!
    Link  •  Reply