January 8th, 2011

Do estates profit from biographies?

Setting: Present-day California

Context: Character A is writing a biography on Character B's deceased spouse. Character B and the diseased spouse had two young children together. Character B has placed all the money inherited from his spouse's estate into a trust for their kids, and will not use it for any of it for his personal debts. My idea for the story is that Character B will recieve a portion of the profits made from the writing of the biography, which he plans to use to pay off said debts.

Question: Do spouses/relatives/the estate of the deceased actually recieve a cut from the profits of an authorized biography?

Research/search terms: "Authorized biography", "Profit of biographies", "Relatives cut of profits from biography", "Biography commissions", "Commissioned biography".

Most sites I've found talk about how it's better for a biography to be authorized, but doesn't talk about what authorization actually entails, and whether or not the estate profits from it.

Thanks in advance!