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July 2019 Tip of the Month: Crafting Your Legacy with J. Leko

J. Leko is the principal of J. Leko Furniture Maker, LLC, where he designs and builds specially commissioned custom furniture and woodwork. Leko studied at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and has had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s finest craftspeople. He received a Get Ready Grant from CERF+ in 2017 and used the funds to develop a plan to protect and preserve his artistic legacy. “If you don’t have a legacy plan in place, now is the perfect time to do it,” Leko said. “CERF+’s Get Ready Grants and resources are a great way to get started.” Read on to learn more about crafting your own legacy plan, and watch the video to hear what Leko learned during the process.

Tip of the Month IconYou don’t have to start from scratch. There are plenty of free resources out there to guide you through the process, including CERF+’s Crafting Your Legacy: A Guide for Putting Your Non-Artistic Assets to Work in an Estate Plan and the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Creating a Living Legacy (CALL). The Legacy + Estate Planning page on CERF+’s website has a great list of articles and resources to help you get started!

You don’t have to get it right the first time. The process is iterative and may need to be refined and adjusted several times throughout your career. Don’t let the fact that you don’t have all the answers stop you from taking action. Breaking the process into small, actionable steps will help make it seem less daunting. As you make progress, you’ll begin to have a more holistic perspective of your studio, the tools you use, and their value.

It’s not just about writing a will. When done properly, an actionable plan will help to ensure the future value of your artwork, save you considerable amounts of time, and serve as a guide to your heirs for protecting and preserving your artistic legacy.

Identify valuables other than artwork. These “non-artistic assets” are the tools, equipment, raw materials, and other resources artists use in the service of the creative process and marketing their work. For many artists, non-artistic assets represent a sizable monetary investment and often are more than just “physical property”—especially tools and books that may have great personal significance. Having an inventory of your non-artistic assets is just as important as having documentation of your artwork, both for your current creative practice and planning for your creative legacy.

Hire a lawyer to help you draft your estate plan. As these are legal documents, legal counsel is recommended. J. Leko used his Get Ready Grant to help cover the cost. While this can be expensive, organizations like the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts offer a broad range of free and low-cost legal services to artists, small arts-related businesses, and cultural organizations. 

Apply for a Get Ready Grant to jump-start your legacy planning. CERF+ offers twenty grants of up to $500 in two competitive cycles to help artists safeguard their studios, protect their careers, and prepare for emergencies. J. Leko found that not only were the funds helpful in covering the costs of legacy planning, but the grant deadline also kept him motivated and focused. 

It’s never too early or too late to start crafting a legacy plan. Once you have a plan in place, you’ll rest easy knowing that your artistic legacy will be protected and preserved. 

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