I Based My Character On My Elderly Client/Friend. Do I Really Need A Notarized Release? Yes!

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Angela,

I emailed you awhile back that one of the main characters in my new book is modeled after my client, who is in his 90s. There is an agreement/contract that I typed up and had him sign but it’s difficult for him to get around. I did not have the contract notarized at a local bank, etc. because of this. He was fine with everything and his daughter read over the contract as well and had no issues.

He’s become a very good friend and I don’t foresee any issues.

– C.

If you are self-publishing, you are legally liable for all aspects of your book. For your protection, you should definitely have it notarized. Due to the author’s age, he or his family could later claim he was not mentally capable of understanding the contract. I’m not an attorney and I can’t give you legal advice. I’ve just seen too many frivolous lawsuit threats in this business and you should do what you can (you can have a notary meet you at his house) to protect yourself.

If the book starts selling, a family member of his might decide they want a piece of the pie and the easiest way to get that is to sue you for any number of reasons. Never assume that just because someone is a friend that they or a family member of theirs won’t someday turn on you when they get jealous about your book sales. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. A notarized release is a simple and inexpensive way to further protect yourself.

While there are many sample releases online, it’s a good idea to have it reviewed by an attorney to ensure you’ve covered all your bases. Below is sample verbiage from a release for publishing purposes.

Again, I am not an attorney and nothing here is legal advice. You must obtain your own legal advice from an attorney to protect yourself. The sample below is only to show you potential future problems you might encounter if you don’t obtain a notarized release that covers possible future risk.

SAMPLE GENERAL RELEASE FOR AUTHORS AND/OR PUBLISHERS

For valuable consideration, including:

1) ______________________ (The Author) is publishing a book that includes (insert name)'s personal life / private experiences;

The Author's book will personally identify (insert name) by name and
the association between the book contents and (insert name) will be made
by readers;

The Author's book will include photographs of (insert name), identified by name and
the association between the book photos and (insert name) will be made
by readers;

3) This document is (insert name)'s release of any and all claims arising from the publication of The Author's book;

4) (insert name) has read the text of The Author's book and agrees that the text is
true and complete and represents (insert name)'s experiences.

I, (insert name), being of legal age and sound mind, do hereby release,
acquit and forever discharge The Author and the publisher and
distributors/sellers of the Author's book of and from any and
all actions, causes of actions, claims, demands, damages, costs, loss of
services, expenses, and compensation, known and unknown, or in any way
growing out of the references made to (insert name) in The Author's book.

The undersigned hereby declares and represents that she/he relies wholly on
her/his own judgment, belief, and knowledge of the nature, extent and
duration of any personal injury and the undersigned has not been
influenced to any extent whatsoever in making this release by any
representation or statements regarding her injury or regarding any other
matters, made by the persons who are hereby released, or by any person
or persons representing them.

This release expresses a full and complete settlement of any potential
liability claim, regardless of the adequacy of the above consideration,
and the acceptance of this release must not operate as an admission of
liability on the part of any party to this agreement.

This release contains the entire agreement between the parties hereto,
and the terms of this release are contractual, not a mere recital. The
undersigned further represents that she/he has carefully read the foregoing
release, knows its contents, and signs the same as her/his own free act.
In addition, the undersigned is advised that, should she/he have any
questions about her/his own legal rights or responsibilities, she/he should
seek the advice of an attorney of her/his own choice.

Date:__________________

Signature: ______________________________

(insert name)

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the party has signed this agreement on the date
opposite her name.

Dated:________________

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this _____ day of May, 2008.

Notary Public for (insert state here)

My Commission Expires:

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