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As you may know, residual payments are made in perpetuity (as long as a project is being exhibited somewhere in the world and is generating revenue for the producer). Residuals are considered property (similar to a piece of artwork) and can be passed through a last will and testament and/or a living trust.

Make a Will or Trust

To ensure that residuals continue properly, it is suggested that performers make specific provisions for their residuals by way of a Will or a Trust. If a performer chooses to “split” his or her residuals among more than one beneficiary, please know that neither SAG-AFTRA nor the payors of residuals are required to comply with this direction. If there are multiple beneficiaries of residuals, the beneficiaries must come to an agreement of who will accept the residual payments (the “Nominee”) and be responsible for sharing residuals received among the other beneficiaries.


Please also note that a nomination is not an interest in property and does not transfer upon death. If the Nominee is no longer able to accept residual payments and distribute them either due to his (or her) own death or incapacity, the original beneficiaries must choose a new nominee. To avoid this difficulty, it is certainly possible to choose a bank, a trust company or a similar corporation to act as a nominee in perpetuity and distribute the residuals accordingly.


If a performer has a loan-out company, residual payments will continue to be paid to that company until the corporation is dissolved.

What to do when a Performer Dies

When a performer dies, the SAG-AFTRA Residual Estates Department should be notified, along with the Pension & Health and Health & Retirement Plans, as well as any other unions and health plans to which the performer may have belonged. The Estates Department will then send the appropriate forms for completion as well as advise what other documentation, if any, other than a certified copy of the death certificate, is necessary.

Estates FAQ
Can I designate a beneficiary for my residuals prior to my death?

No. Residuals are considered property and must pass via a legal document.

As a beneficiary, do I continue to get residuals even if the deceased performer was not a SAG-AFTRA member?

Yes. Residuals continue in perpetuity. Contact the SAG-AFTRA Residual Estates Department to obtain the proper documentation and further instruction.

What if a performer dies without a last will & testament or a trust?

Contact the SAG-AFTRA Residuals Estates Department. There are other legal documents that apply to this situation.

As a beneficiary, are there any benefits (other than residuals) payable to me when a performer dies?

There are no benefits payable through SAG-AFTRA; however, you should contact the SAG-Producers Pension & Health Plan and AFTRA Health & Retirement Plan (separate organizations).

Unclaimed Residuals
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Please note this is not an exhaustive list of all issues that may fall under the Residuals Estates area.

Contact Us

For any questions or more in-depth information, please contact the Residuals Estates Department:

Phone: 323-549-6557
Fax: 323-549-6550