Digital assets have become one of the leading problems in estate planning because attorneys are rushing to catch up with the technology and the laws governing who may have access to your online accounts once you pass. Most people now have multiple social media accounts that have a wealth of information they may want family and/or friends to have once they are gone. On the other hand, some people may have information in their social media accounts that they prefer to be deleted never to see the light of day by another person.
Therefore, in addition to providing for your family’s financial security, protecting your assets, and ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes, you must now consider what to do with your online social media accounts when you die. Facebook has made this a little easier for account holders.
Facebook Legacy Contact
Until Facebook introduced the option of a legacy contact, owners of Facebook accounts only had two options when they died. Facebook would create a memorialized account that would effectively “freeze” the account as it was at the date of your death. Current friends could post messages but no new friends could be added, profile pictures could not be changed, and all settings would remain the same. The other option Facebook offered was to delete the account entirely.
Now you have the choice of adding a “legacy contact” to your Facebook account. The legacy contact can manage your Facebook account once it has been memorialized following your death. While your legacy contact does not have full access to your account or the ability to change all settings, the person you appoint does have more power than Facebook’s previous option for your account.
Your legacy contact can post information about when you died, funeral information, and other relevant information that your friends and family may want to know. You contact has the ability to accept new friend requests, update profile and cover photos, and download your entire Facebook profile (photos, posts, and other information) to preserve this for your family.
To give you a layer of protection, your legacy contact does not have access to private messages sent or received by you, delete or change anything shared on your timeline (including photos), or remove any contacts from your friend’s list. Unfortunately, your legacy contact will not be able to delete embarrassing photos or information from your timeline; however, protecting your private messages is a definite step in the right direction.
Estate Planning for the Digital Age – Protect Your Digital Assets
Protecting your assets and ensuring your wishes are carried out after your death is a top priority for our attorneys. We constantly monitor new laws, technology, and advancements in the area of estate planning. Digital assets are only one of the new areas we are assisting our clients in handling.
The attorneys of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters pertaining to these areas of law and personalize our services to meet the needs of each client. Our compassionate and dedicated attorneys make house calls for clients if they are unable to come to our office. Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a free consultation or use our online contact form.
Image credit: Sean MacEntee