People are building account information every minute of every day. Social media growth is at an all-time high: Facebook registered 2.0 billion monthly users at the time this article was released, YouTube registered 1.5 billion users and Instagram, the largest rising site, reported 700 million. But what’s going to happen to all these accounts when someone dies?
Individuals sometimes forget their digital properties when making an estate plan-online accounts, websites , social media handles, and digital files. In a will or estate planning, many of these things will not be left to anyone because people do not own their digital content. However, after their death, individuals will leave thorough guidelines for an executor detailing what to do with digital properties.
What is included in an individual’s digital assets?
Items to consider include:
- Social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn
- E-mail accounts
- Blogs and licensed domain names
- Seller’s accounts, such as Amazon or eBay
- Financial accounts
- What are an individual’s rights to digital accounts?
There is a misconception that individuals own the online accounts they create. Most digital accounts belong to a specific individual through license only. When that person passes, the contract ends and the business that hosts the account has control over what happens to it.
For example, Facebook will change the status of a profile to “Memorial” for family and friends to continue viewing the profile or leave a message to their loved one. Some companies will delete or deactivate the account. Other companies won’t notice inactivity for some time, giving the executor the ability to carry out the deceased’s wishes for the account, such as leaving a last status or message, deleting certain posts or deleting the account altogether.
How to leave instructions
Leaving thorough instructions and login information for the executor is the easiest way to ensure that last wishes are carried out for digital assets. This information can be stored in a letter with the other estate planning documents.
Have a question about digital assets and estate planning? Contact Salidaa for a FREE consultation! Salidaa offers clients estate planning and over 20 years of experience in wealth building, estate planning and administration, probate business and litigation.