Social Media Wills May Theoretically Provide Access To Online Assets But May Inadvertently Cause Illegal Action On Part Of Family Members

Monday, January 07, 2013 01:17
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Social Media Wills May Theoretically Provide Access To Online Assets But May Inadvertently Cause Illegal Action On Part Of Family Members

Tags: estate planning | LinkedIn | passwords

Digital assets are increasingly perplexing when it comes to knowing how to treat them after a loved one dies.

 
Enter the Social Media Will. It leaves passwords and other critical information about online accounts or other items like a Facebook page to a trusted person.
 
But privacy laws may define such access as illegal, even when estate laws would give designated social media heirs access.

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There are companies like LegacyLocker.com and SecureSafe.com that have been created to store all of a person’s passwords in a safe place.
 
There are also private secure online vaults where your clients may be storing critical documents like insurance policies, wills, and medical and financial account information.
 
Allowing someone else to have access to your accounts may violate the terms of service on a number of sites.
 
Unfortunately, there are no standard guidelines among web companies for families who need to gain access to deceased family members’ data.
 
For example, Google requires a court order to close a deceased person’s Gmail account.
 
Facebook, on the other hand, seeks to shut down the pages of the deceased or memorialize it so that existing friends can see the page and interact with it doesn’t allow anyone to log into it.
 
Most including Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn will not disclose passwords. Many will not transfer ownership of an account.
 
You can find more information about these companies’ policies here. Talking with your clients about their digital access plans is a valuable part of estate planning that other advisors may not be bringing to their attention.

 

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