What happens to your social media accounts and digital assets when you die?

Facebook, email accounts, photo sharing apps, iTunes accounts etc. the list goes on! Most of us have an online presence across a number of different platforms, so what happens to that online identity when we die?

Many of us make a plan regarding what will happen to the house, car and bank accounts in the event of our death, however, very few plan what will happen to our social media accounts and digital assets.

Who will have access to your social media accounts, your videos and photos (including your selfies!), and emails?

Many recommend that you create an inventory of your social media accounts and digital assets, that is, a list of all accounts, user names and passwords. The inventory can outline who is to receive your photos for example, which digital assets are to be transferred and which accounts you would like shut down. It is important to keep this inventory in a safe place or with a trusted family member, relative or ideally your executor.

The law is very much still developing in the area of social media and the law has not kept pace with its significant growth.

Did you know it is estimated that more than 8,000 Facebook users die every day worldwide!

Some social media accounts have established instructions for dealing with digital assets and social media accounts. Facebook for example has created memorialised accounts.

Facebook also allows you to designate a ‘legacy contact’, a family member or friend who can manage your account when you pass away. Once Facebook is notified that someone has passed away, Facebook will memorialise the account and the legacy contact will be able to write a post to display at the top of the memorialised timeline, respond to new friend requests from family and friends and update the profile picture and cover photo. 

How do I nominate a ‘legacy contact’ on Facebook?

Its easy! Click settings > security > legacy contact.

Here are 5 easy steps to create a digital Estate Plan:

  1. Make a list of all your social media accounts and digital assets – include user names and passwords.
  2. Decide what you want to do with these assets – e.g. transfer them to family; archive and save information; delete or erase accounts.
  3. Decide on a trusted family executor to carry out your wishes.
  4. Store the information in a safe place – e.g. with your Will and be sure that your executor knows where it can be found.
  5. Make it legal and enforceable with the assistance of an Estate Planning solicitor.
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