Estate Planning Tips: Social media and other digital accounts

Many of us have social media accounts on various platforms these days. They can be used in a number of ways, whether it’s for sharing photos or news with family and friends, keeping in touch through messaging apps or simply for finding entertaining content. However, very few people consider what might happen with their social media accounts after their death.
As well as things such as Facebook profiles and WhatsApp messages, someone’s digital accounts can also include anything from online banking access to decades-worth of emails, as well as digital-only utility service accounts, cloud storage of things such as family photos, videos and other memories, and many other day-to-day essentials or digital keepsakes.

If you were to pass away unexpectedly, would the executor of your estate be able to find and access all of these accounts in order to deal with your assets and accounts appropriately? If not, then you should consider making a digital legacy so that you don’t pass a complex burden on to someone else.

Make a digital legacy alongside your Will

Online information can’t be included in a Will as itself, because a Will can sometimes become a public document. Instead, a digital legacy document can be prepared alongside a Will to detail the specific information. This document should contain a list of digital accounts, including social media accounts, but not include any login details. Again, for any online bank accounts, online service accounts or digital assets, they should be listed, but passwords and security details etc should not be on the digital legacy document, to help the accounts remain secure.

As well as mainstream banks, this could also include any additional digital accounts you have money in, such as PayPal. If you have online betting accounts, any money held in these virtual wallets will also form part of your estate, and so they need to be listed too.
As part of your Will, you can decide what you want to happen to any social media or digital accounts and assets that you have. You may simply want the accounts to be closed, but you may want your family or loved ones to have access to things such as photographs you have stored online. This can be documented to make sure your wishes are followed.

Even if the executor or your Will has passwords or login details, they do not have the legal authority to access your online accounts after your death. They will need to approach the account providers to gain access in most cases, showing them documents to prove that they are acting on behalf of your estate.

If you have any questions about digital accounts or assets and planning your estate, our team are happy to help. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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