Fannish Estate Planning

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Fannish Estate Planning -- because you can't take it with you.

The topic is a very practical one, sometimes the subject of panels at conventions, sometimes talked about in less formal situations. What does a fan, or a fan's executors, do with fannish collections and creations?

Physical Collections and Creations

With no plan in place, a fan's zines, books, collectables, and other fannish collections are at the mercy of her or his heirs. Sometimes these heirs are in tune with fannish sensibilities and have a good plan. Sometimes heirs have no idea what they are looking at, and sadly, much fannish material ends up in the trash and other inglorious destinations.

Some fans set up plans for their collections in advance, designating destinations and making sure materials are dealt with in the way they'd like. Some options: ceding collections to other fans and sending materials to archives.

Some comments:

After Chris Soto died, her entire zine and art collection was lost forever—very likely thrown out by her family. This made it even more of a tragedy. And it makes me aware of what plans I personally have for my collection—I certainly don't intend for it to be implemented any time soon—but now I'm even more aware of how important it is to know what would happen to my zines and artwork. These are my precious things and I'd want them to be with others who care.[1]

... we obviously need to be sure and make our arrangements for our K/S (and ST) stuff in the event of our passing, as our families might well not dispose of it properly. [2]

Because of the potential loss of fandom collections, the OTW has partnered with the University of Iowa to help collect and reserve fanzines and other fan created materials. Anyone who knows of fanworks online or print collections that are at risk should contact the Open Doors Committee. Please. In addition to Open Doors, several other universities are actively seeking donations of fan related material: they are Texas A&M University and Bowling Green University in Ohio. See also Fanzine Archives.

Online Collections and Creations

As fannish journals and sites are accessible only by password, some fans are very aware that their demise may mean a loss of content or control over content.

For fiction accounts at Archive of Our Own: the AO3 has a Fannish next-of-kin policy -- "Registered archive users may designate a fannish next-of-kin. A next-of-kin agreement allows the transfer of content maintenance in the case of a user’s permanent incapacitation or death. Both parties to the agreement must be registered users of the Archive. The Archive’s role in this agreement is only to act as a facilitator. If the person designated as the fannish next-of-kin activates the agreement by sending a message to the Archive, the Archive will not do any independent investigation to confirm the necessity for the transfer. A fannish next-of-kin agreement is confidential and accessible only by designated members of the archive team, who may only use it for purposes of implementing the agreement." [3]

For more information on the AO3 Next-of-Kin arrangement, see: Fannish Next of Kin.

External Sources


  1. ^ from The K/S Press #26
  2. ^ from The K/S Press #26
  3. ^ from Archive of Our Own, scroll down