Did you know that some social media and e-mail providers value and protect privacy so much that they will not allow a family member or executor of an estate to access the deceased person’s social media account or email account?
The law historically responds much slower than technology grows. Thirty years after the creation of the “world wide web,” states are starting to pass digital asset laws that treat digital assets like tangible personal property that can be passed on to others or, at the very least, settled and administered by an executor. North Carolina recently passed one such law.
However, it remains to be seen how well social media and email providers respond to the law. In the meantime, here is what you can do to ensure that you have control over what happens with your social medial and email accounts. I have picked Facebook and Gmail because they are the largest providers in their respective platforms. However, almost all social media and email providers have something similar as listed below.
- Please keep your passwords where your loved one can find them. Not only for dignity and sentimental purposes, but your loved one may need to access financial accounts to settle your estate. There are a variety of services that save passwords, or you could do it the old fashioned way by writing down somewhere safe.
- Choose to delete your Facebook account after death or name a “legacy contact” to handle your account in security settings. Follow the instructions here: https://www.facebook.com/help/103897939701143?helpref=faq_content
- Google has an option where you can name a trustee over your account (again, in security settings). If your account remains inactive for a certain amount of time, Google will email your trustee and allow your trustee to access your data. After the trustee has done so, you can select an option to ask Google to delete your accounts. https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3036546?hl=en