Social media has become ingrained in our daily lives. For example, the majority (68%) of adults in America use Facebook. 74% of Facebook users say they visit the site daily, with around half (51%) saying they visit several times a day. And those are just the stats for one social media site.
If you’re involved in social media, your personal information may live on through the Internet long after you’re no longer around to manage it. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a social media will as part of your estate planning. Just appoint someone you trust to be your social media executor, and that person will be responsible for managing your social media profiles, and even blogs, after you’re deceased.
We always include a packet for our clients to fill out in their estate plan that includes spaces for online information and other important accounts their loved ones should know about after they’re gone. For a comprehensive social media will you should consider the following:
- Review the privacy policies and the terms and conditions of each website where you have a presence. Each social network has its own rules, regulations, and processes when dealing with death.
- State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel your profile or keep it up for friends and family to visit. Facebook lets you “memorialize” your account so friends and family can share memories after you’ve passed away. Facebook also lets you add “a legacy contact”—someone you can put on your account now who would look after your account if it’s memorialized.
- Give the social media executor a document that lists all the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
- Stipulate in your will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate. The online executor may need this as proof in order for websites to take any actions on your behalf.
If you put all this information in a will, once the will is admitted to probate, its contents become public information. It’s best to reference a separate document that contains all of your account details, or to draft a trust with a digital asset plan so that none of your usernames or passwords could ever become part of the public record.
When we save photos and videos on services like Instagram and Facebook, etc., we’re sharing our lives with our friends and family. However, there’s a risk that those photos and videos could be deleted or lost whether we’re alive or have passed away. In many cases, you can back up these memories to pass them on to your loved ones today. Just check with the social media platform you’re using to see if it’s possible and how to do it.
The world is changing and your estate plan has to keep up in order to properly serve you and your loved ones. It’s never too soon to get your virtual affairs in order, and a review of your current estate plan might be a good place to start. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.299.6976 to schedule a free one-hour consultation.