Another day, another sale of publishing rights to a back catalogue for a huge sum of money; this time that of David Bowie, who follows hot on the heels of Bruce Springsteen (and Bob Dylan and Paul Simon just before him).

The big difference here however - between this sale and those of Springsteen, Dylan etc - is that this time the sale was conducted by the artist's estate. For those of us that deal with wills and estate planning for wealthy musicians, as well as other types of artist who have significant value in their back catalogue, the sale raises some familiar issues.

1. The importance of intellectual property (IP)

Whilst a significant proportion of many artists' estates will look like any other - real estate, investment portfolios, private company shares etc, IP interests will often represent a much greater share of the value than is the norm. Pinning down that IP - what it is, who owns it, how to value it - will often form a key part of any proper estate planning project. A major artist's estate should not be treated like any other.

2. Artistic legacy or commercial profit?

Many artists like to retain control over their IP during their lifetime, which might mean prioritising their creative vision over pure commercial profit. But what about after you die? Giving guidance to your executors, trustees and heirs as to how they should deal with your artistic legacy is a vital part of any will planning. If commercial profit is the key priority, who will take the commercial decisions and who will ultimately benefit?

3. Squabbling families

Wealthy families can be notorious for disagreeing over money, and artists' families are no exception. In fact the problems can be exacerbated where an artistic legacy is left - with different family members having different views on how that legacy should be treated. It is often the case that artistic legacy and commercial profit conflict, which can create a perfect storm for families with different views on the topic.

4. Tax

Any good estate plan needs to think through the tax consequences. Of particular difficulty is the question of whether companies which are exploiting an artist's IP qualify for Business Property Relief, an exemption from UK Inheritance Tax which can make a huge difference to an estate's overall tax liability. This is a specialist area which should be approached with great care.

Whilst major artists' estates throw up the same issues as any other wealthy person, they also have a number of additional ones. Sophisticated planning is essential - and can help ensure that an artist's estate and legacy is both protected and used as a force for good, not, as is so often the case, a basis for hostility.