Estate Planning Part 3: ASCAP Membership

Upon the death of an ASCAP member, his or her ASCAP membership may be passed on to a spouse, child, loved one, or anyone he or she chooses, or state law dictates. Individuals who receive a membership interest are called "successor members." So long as the original member's copyrights continue, when a successor member dies or multiple successor members die, further successors can be appointed.

ASCAP relies upon survivors of deceased members to advise ASCAP of the date of death so that ASCAP can provide the appropriate forms that must be submitted to name a successor to the deceased member’s ASCAP membership.  The time it takes to name a successor member generally depends on the complexity of the process required to settle the deceased member’s estate.   

Even if the deceased songwriter or composer was not an ASCAP member at the time of death, he or she may be posthumously elected to membership, and then have a successor appointed to that membership. Someone may also file a posthumous application for publisher membership on behalf of the deceased. 

Please keep in mind that ASCAP cannot offer legal, tax or estate planning advice. We strongly encourage you to consult with your tax advisor regarding estate planning. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, seek out a professional to help.

ASCAP Applications for Deceased and Successor Members

Once the application that applies to your circumstances has been completed, return it along with the documents requested in the application to ASCAP's Global Services Department. Our address, telephone and fax number are included on the applications. For the fastest service, please submit a copy of the deceased's will, death certificate, trust or any other estate planning documents requested on the application form.

Successor Appointment for a Deceased ASCAP Member
Use this application if the deceased was an ASCAP writer member, in order to appoint a person (or persons) to succeed that writer member in his or her membership. You should also use this form if the deceased was both an ASCAP writer and publisher member.
Successor Appointment to a Successor Member of a Deceased Member
Use this application if the deceased was already a successor member to an ASCAP writer member, and another successor (or successors) needs to be appointed to membership. This form should also be used if the deceased was both a successor to an ASCAP writer and publisher member.
Posthumous Election to Membership and Appointment of a Successor for a Deceased Writer
Use this application if you need to appoint a successor to a deceased individual who has yet to be elected to ASCAP membership. This assumes that the deceased would have qualified for ASCAP membership during his or her lifetime. If applying posthumously for writer membership, consider applying for publisher membership. Contact ASCAP's Global Services Department (1-800-95-ASCAP) for an application.

Application to Transfer Publisher Membership of a Deceased Owner
Use this form if the deceased was an owner or officer of an ASCAP publisher membership, but was not an ASCAP writer member. If the deceased was also an ASCAP writer member, use the Application for a Successor Appointment for a Deceased Writer Member.
More questions about estate planning? View our Estate Planning FAQs or contact our Global Services team at 1-800-95-ASCAP.