There was a lot of speculation in the press regarding the will of David Bowie.It was reported that the will divides £70 million among family members, and makes requests regarding cremation and the scattering of his ashes.

While not hitting the headlines quite so much, there were also a few news items about the story of Reginald Hill, the violinist on Michael Jackson's classic 'Billie Jean'. The articles tell of an agreement struck by Reginald Hill's widow that will mean UK royalty payments will flow post-death from Mr Hill's contributionto the track.Mrs Hill was able to havecontrol of Mr Hill's work and the value attaching to it.

Both of these stories highlight the importance of using a will to secure the financial and artistic legacy of a piece or body of artistic work.

Protecting artistic legacy and value

For artists in whatever field, a will also protects your artistic legacy and the associated finances (for example, royalties).Having a clear will and instructions as to the future use of your work can be critical.It will help avoid confusion, conflict and unnecessary tax.

A will can make special provision for the future ownership and management of your work to best secure the artistic legacy and integrity of your creativity and in a way that you wish. Estate planning can be key where there has already been, and/or will be in the future, significant financial returns from the work.

Final thoughts

David Bowie's estate raises a number of important legal issues to be considered when instructing the preparation of a will. In particular, it highlights the importance of choosing the right guardians, the right executors and the right will structure to protect and enhance the value of the estate following death, and in turn safeguard and provide financial security for the beneficiaries' future.

It also provides an opportunity to put a stamp on the future legacy of your body of work and how it will be used in the future. These legal issues are particularly critical where the individual has a high value estate with creative business interests and artistic legacies which are likely to continue post death.

Artistic work has a value.To protect that value and control its use, a will is an important tool for artists to make sure they can place their stamp on how their creativity will be used and its value secured. A will allows an artist to decide who controls their work, who benefits from its value and the basis upon whichitis controlled and enjoyed.