During Make a Will Month we’ve discussed the reasons to start your estate planning, what documents will you need and the basics like bequests or living wills. However, we’ve needed to consider what happens to your social media accounts when you’re gone.
Today, we all leave some legacy on the Internet, our 2.0 lives if you will. From Facebook to Instagram, a blog or a LinkedIn profile, or a biography of our lives, is ingrained on the Internet. Does that presence ever go away? We did some research, especially because this author spends a significant amount of time on the web and as such, I want to know what’s going to happen to my digital life when I die.
When it comes to your social media accounts, it depends on the platform. Each channel has unique ways to deal with death, some of them like Facebook have integrated ways to handle this scenario and others haven’t even acknowledged it yet. These discrepancies are concerning. However, there are ways that you can manage this yourself.
Facebook offers users the option to select whether they’d like their account to be memorialized or permanently deleted when they die. All your content stays on Facebook and is visible to the audience you originally shared it with. You can also set a legacy contact, i.e. someone that can manage your account after you pass away, this person will have the ability to post on your profile and change the picture, but your messages will stay private so, that means that some secrets will remain secret. Instagram’s rules are very similar to these as well.
Twitter doesn’t have any built-in way of addressing the death of a user, but its policy does allow verified family member and estate executors to work with Twitter to deactivate the account in question.
In both of these major platforms, you require another person to handle this, but there are also ways where you can rest assured that your digital assets and online presence will be handled the way you want it.
Make a will for your 2.0 life
You may have your entire life stored online, I know I do, and this is when a Digital Will can help. Social media sites, domain names, or having a significant online presence can all be valuable assets. Not to mention all the information you store online, from your stock portfolio to your virtual bank account.
Or, create a social media addendum to your existing estate planning:
A Social Media Addendum to a will is an approach on how to handle additional, digital, information on your existing will. It’s not just your Facebook and Twitter at stake, what about access to your email and online accounts? A Social Media Addendum to Will can be a beneficial addition in a digitally driven world.
The most important thing to remember with any social media you use is that each platform’s terms and conditions (while already intricate and confusing) can change at any time, so it may be wise to impose a little self- planning and looking ahead. I understand this isn’t a fun topic but, it’s about your life as well. Remember, estate planning is about protecting what matters to you, in my case is that online presence I’ve built throughout the years, that’s a valuable asset. Making a will isn’t just for the wealthy or the people who own physical property, it’s for everyone, and at Rocket Lawyer, we’re here to help.