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My mother gave me a collection of her poems. She is now deceased. She always wanted to be published. She never copyrighted her work. Her surviving spouse and my brother have no issue with me doing this. Do I have to worry about any legal considerations?

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First, my condolences--I hope you and your family find peace.

As for publishing her work, everything I've read emphasizes next of kin (the person who can legally act in their stead) when publishing the work of a deceased person. The person's manuscript (or computer that contains the text file, etc.) is considered personal property, and passes to the next of kin to deal with as they see fit. As long as you have the spouse's (your mother's next of kin) consent, I see no problem with you publishing the poems.

If you're still unsure or run into problems, I'd get in touch with a probate lawyer.

  • Thank you. I think I'll be ok doing this as everything I have she gave to me and my stepdad doesn't feel a need to lay claim to it. – Lori Oct 16 '17 at 19:06
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    @Lori doesn't feel a need to... until it say becomes a huge hit and worth millions and he wants his fair share. Best to have him sign a contract of agreement stating he wants nothing to do with the poems and will not attempt to make any future claims against it should they turn into a profit. Also, if the poems were handed to you via a will, then there is nothing anyone can do as it was legally handed to you that way as well. – ggiaquin16 Oct 16 '17 at 21:27
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    Do check that she didn't designate someone else for intellectual property in her will. It sounds unlikely in this case, but I've seen a case of this where the person designated somebody with the right skills for the IP, unlike everything else that went to the closest heir. – Monica Cellio Oct 17 '17 at 22:03

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