BMI is not authorized by law to accept beneficiary designations of an affiliate’s royalty rights. Therefore, before royalties can be paid to an affiliate’s successors or heirs, they must go through an identification and verification process to establish the proper recipients.
This page is designed to help you understand the transition process from a dead BMI songwriter, composer, or music publisher to a member of his or her family or a designated heir. Knowing the steps in the process and answers to the questions you may have may make it easier for both you and BMI to continue the royalty distribution as smoothly as possible.
Royalty Transfer to Estate Process
BMI contacts the family of the recently deceased BMI affiliate, or we are notified by the family directly.
Someone from the family or a designated heir must complete the BMI Estate Questionnaire that gives us the necessary information regarding individuals who may be eligible as beneficiaries of the copyright royalties that BMI distributes.
After BMI receives the completed Questionnaire and supporting documents, we review them to establish who is legally entitled to the royalties.
BMI drafts an heir’s agreement permitting the heirs to receive direct payment of the royalties at their designated banking/mailing addresses. This can take up to six months to complete.
Heirs sign the agreement affiliating them with BMI and directing the distribution flow of royalties from the song catalog.
Once the agreement is processed, the heirs will start to receive a royalty check on a quarterly basis if the decedent’s songs are performed. This can take up to six weeks to complete.
If any change of address takes place after the initial processing of information, the heirs need to notify BMI to ensure continual receipt of payments.
Fee to transfer royalties to an affiliate’s successors or heirs
There is a $250 estate application fee for the deceased BMI affiliate’s writer account and each associated BMI publisher account.
The estate application fee is non-refundable and due in full when the BMI Estate Questionnaire is submitted to BMI. The fee is not deductible from future earnings. BMI will require appropriate supporting documentation for any requested transfer to successor(s) or heir(s). Payment of the estate application fee does not guarantee payment of royalties to the identified persons on the Estate Questionnaire until the lawful heirs or successors are confirmed and a new agreement signed.
An estate application requires:
- A completed Estate Questionnaire;
- Any supporting estate documents (e.g., death certificate, any last will and testament, any trust documents); and
- Fee payment in the form of a cashier’s check, money order, or personal check payable to BMI with “AR Acct# 92000003” in the memo line.
MAIL THE COMPLETED ESTATE QUESTIONNAIRE, SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS AND PAYMENT TO:
BMI Legal Department
7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street
New York, New York 10007-0030
If you have any questions or would like to pay via credit card, please call the BMI Estate Help Line at 212-220-3088.