Digital Assets, Social Media

Digital Assets After Death

There are many things you have to consider when creating wills, trusts, and more. Most of the time, social media, and digital assets are the last thing you want to think about when you are terminally ill or seriously injured. Is it even important to think about this? What’s the point? You have to keep in mind if you were active online and interacted a lot with friends and family, this has allowed them to have invaluable moments with you. However, even though your posts, pictures, videos, and more may have huge sentimental meanings to your loved ones, there is a high value to hackers, and fraudsters, where the threat of identity theft is real. Due to this, there are many experts who will argue that online accounts can now be seen as “digital inheritance” which is an important aspect of estates that should be included in wills. If ignored, this could lead to difficulties down the road.

What to know before managing your digital inheritance

Make sure your lawyer is familiar with the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADA), which guarantees individuals the right to transfer digital possessions legally.

How should you prepare your digital inheritance?

This is where you will want to share with a trusted close friend or family member your social media information including passwords. Remember, sharing passwords should be in private and not in wills, as will are apart of the public record. The information should be “need to know” regarding the legacy you want to preserve. What you could do now is narrow down the current social media memberships you contain. You can delete or edit privacy settings now for early preparation.

What options do social media services provide for managing a deceased user’s data?

Many social media sites display their terms of service in the incident of someone’s death. Below are what some sites provide in this situation. Facebook:
  • You can set up your account in advance. You can choose to memorialize the account or have it completely deactivated and deleted.
  • Twitter can work with someone you authorize to work on deactivating your account after death. According to its terms of service, Twitter won’t allow someone to have account access to post anything or make any changes
  • Like Twitter, when requested by an approved friend or family member, a user’s account will be closed out with appropriate paperwork.
Google Accounts:
  • (This includes Google+, Gmail., YouTube) Like Facebook, there is an option that allows users to make arrangements after their death. There’s a way to create a “dead man’s switch” by creating an inactive account feature. When Google realizes there is no activity from the user, the deletion process will go into effect. However, if this feature is not set up, loved ones from the user can contact Google to close an account.
  • Only verified friends or family can close out a user’s account after death. The proper paperwork will need to be provided in order to move forward.
  • Similar to Twitter, Yahoo!, and LinkedIn, a request can be made by a verified family member or friend.
  • Same as Pinterest, however, there can be a request to memorialize the account like Facebook offers.

Other options for sharing your digital assets and inheritance?

If this all sounds overwhelming, remember it doesn’t have to be. There are even third-party applications dedicated to helping individuals resolve these issues, along with password managing apps that hold all of your digital inheritance, where your spouse or a trusted family member, or friend will have access to it. It’s not too late to start planning. The sites above can help you prepare your plan to protect your digital identity and legacy in the case you do pass. Contact the Law Offices of Lawrence H. Nemirow today for more information about digital assets. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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We Specialize In Estate Planning, Probate, Wills And Trusts, Insurance Law And Business And Corporate Law.

I was licensed to practice law in the State of California on June 6, 1996. I then formed The Law Offices of Lawrence H. Nemirow, PC to serve communities of Los Angeles County and Orange County with their legal needs. I am licensed to practice before all of the Superior Courts in the State of California, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.


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