If you’re like most young people, you spend at least some time on Facebook. You curate wonderful photos and share your activities with your friends, even perhaps posting what you had for dinner. Have you ever stopped to think what would happen to your Facebook account if you die?
Many states have proposed legislation that would determine who controls your social media accounts when you die. For instance, a social media bill in New Hampshire proposes to give the executor of a deceased person’s estate control over the social media and electronic communications accounts of the deceased person.
Currently, the various social media and electronic communication companies all have different rules governing what happens in the event of the death of a member. For instance, Facebook has a policy of either deleting the account or memorializing it once it receives notice of a death. The memorial page remains active only to allow friends and family to post comments on it. Critics point to the fact that the deceased member’s family does not have any control over the site. Such sites are often targets of cyber-bullying, which only adds to the grief of the family.
Until the social media companies either take action, or are forced to by legislation, the best that social media account holders can do is to make plans to transfer ownership of these valuable accounts to heirs, just like any other asset. Your estate planning lawyer can help you prepare an addendum to your will listing all of your social media and electronic communication accounts and correspondingly list the names of the persons you want to bequeath those accounts to. You can pick different people for different accounts. It’s best to provide the passwords to those accounts as well.
It’s important to plan for the transfer of these accounts upon your death. After all, you wouldn’t want your precious memories to fall into the wrong hands or worse yet, get deleted.