Galaxies near and far mourned the loss of Carrie Fisher in 2016 – the character of Leia is not a character that could simply be recast. From a princess first appearing in the opening sequence of Star Wars: A New Hope through evolution to General Organa in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Fisher’s Leia has been a central character that arguably set the tone of each story’s arc.
Fans were thrilled to hear that previously filmed footage would allow Fisher to have a role in the final installment of the series due out this month. Director J.J. Abrams was able to retool footage featuring Fisher from the prior two movies to create Leia’s final performance in The Rise of Skywalker.
So, do deceased actors and actresses still get “paid” for their performance? Can they consent to the use of their likeness post-mortem? Florida, like many states, prohibits the unauthorized publication or other public use of a person’s name or likeness “for purposes of trade or for any commercial or advertising purpose” without consent of the person. This consent may be granted in a will or trust, or the ability to consent may pass to an heir. Florida Statute 540.08(1)(C) provides that a surviving spouse or children can consent and allow for the use of a decedent’s name or likeness.
Fisher outlined the provisions for the use of her likeness in her estate plan. Her living trust named her daughter, Billie Lourd, as the sole beneficiary of any future earnings or royalties. As her sole beneficiary and heir under California law, Lourd also controls the use of her mother’s image and likeness (even if this was not explicitly granted in a Will & Testament).
Proper estate planning can encompass so much more than traditional assets, and intellectual property and the right of publicity raise important legal questions. If you have questions about any of these areas, contacting attorney Sarah Geltz is a great place to start finding answers. Kendrick Law Group attorneys are dedicated to providing quality legal services for your intellectual property and estate planning needs. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.
Co-Written by Attorney Fernando Paredes