Can I pass my patent to my heirs?

Glenn W. Peterson

If you work hard enough on an invention that you secure a patent for it, then you obviously want to protect it at all costs. If you should pass away, you do not want to lose that patent protection. The money earned from the invention could help your heirs, but the income may be lost if the patent is no longer valid. This may make you wonder what happens with your patent when you die.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you can pass your patent to your heirs. You would do this in your estate planning. You will need to complete an assignment document that will legally allow the rights and ownership of the patent to pass onto your heirs upon your death.

Once you die, your heirs would then own the patent and all associated rights. It will be exactly as it was when you were alive. The only thing that changes is who owns it.

On a related note, you can also sell your patent if you like. If you know you do not have anyone you could leave the patent to, you could always sell it before you die to ensure it ends up in the right hands.

Do keep in mind that patents have a limited life depending on the type. This may not make them as valuable if you are nearing the end of your patent term. So, remember that before you go through the work of transferring the patent or drawing up documents to leave it to your heirs. This information is for education. It is not legal advice.