Your Estate Plan Should Include Your Social Media Sites

You’ve spent the time and developed a presence on Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You have profiles on your company website, your personal website and affiliated organizations. You have email addresses and blogs. So what happens to all of that when you die?

You can create a written statement appointing someone as an “online executor” to handle your online identity. You may want to have the content removed, or your identity made part of memorial. You will certainly want to make sure that your identity isn’t hijacked.

At a minimum, you should consider the following:

Create a printed document that lists all of the websites where you have a profile, together with your usernames and passwords. You should do the same for any website that you own, and for your email addresses. Keep it current. As an alternative, you can sign up for an online password protector, but be aware that you still need to write down the login and password for that application, and that the application may go out of business.

Ask a trustworthy individual if he or she will agree to serve as your social media executor. Let him or her know where the list is kept (We don’t advocate handing the list over immediately – it will quickly become dated)

Execute a Social Media Will – basically a document that instructs your executor how to handle the various sites. Your choices include: 1) canceling, 2) changing the site to a memorial, 3) keeping the site as is but changing posting options. You should also give instructions that your executor can have a copy of your death certificate to use as proof if the website requires additional information.

It’s also a good idea to have this authorization given to your agent in a durable power of attorney, which is effective prior to your death. If you become incapacitated, then you may not have the mental ability to make changes or control your online image.

Be aware that each provider has a user agreement that may control what happens to your account if you die.  Check with those terms and make sure that your instructions follow them – otherwise your agent may be committing a state or federal crime by accessing your information.

Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.