Social media and estate planning
Published 29 Apr 2019
When it comes to estate planning, being thorough is key. Making sure your plans for your estate are laid out clearly means that your loved ones will know exactly what to do in the event of your death. In the digital age, however, many people forget that a lot of their life remains in cyberspace, even after they pass away. Here, we look at estate planning in the digital age, and what you should put in place to secure your social media after your death.
What happens to my social media when I die?
For many people, their social media account serves as a digital scrapbook of memories and milestones, complete with photos shared with friends and family. Because of this, it’s no surprise that people mourning the loss of a loved one often return to these platforms for a walk down memory lane to remember those who passed. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by some providers, such as Facebook.
The social media giant has released a feature where family or friends can apply to memorialise a person’s Facebook account in the event of their death. In the request, family will need to provide evidence that the person has passed away, including a death certificate or notice. However, Facebook have also included an element of estate planning within the feature. Facebook users can appoint a legacy contact to manage the memorialised account when they pass away, although they can’t view private information such as messages. If having an online memorial isn’t part of your wishes, no problem – you can request to have your account permanently deleted if you pass away.
While Facebook has provisions in place for the deaths of its users, many social media sites do not. For this reason, it can be wise to appoint a party in charge of managing the fate of your social media accounts after your passing, with the passwords distributed by the executor of your Will.
For people who have previously relied on social media for income, or have a large presence online, protection of intellectual property is of great importance. Those who operate online brands or blogs need to consider whether their online ventures pass away with them, or choose who will continue or take ownership of such digital possessions or accounts as part of their estate planning.
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