Planning for Social Media after Death

Don’t forget about your accounts. They live on, ghost ships of your former life – the Facebook account, the Twitter feed. They have been silenced by your departure, but in many cases will remain alive for years to come unless the platform is notified of your death by relatives. It may be upsetting to your relatives to see mourners post to your Facebook after your death, a process that has become standard in the last few years, a kind of informal funeral guest book.

Imagine your spouse or children having to cope with these reminders for months as people learn of your death. While it may be comforting immediately after your funeral, at some point the accounts will need to be finalized and removed. Currently, the process is ad hoc; there is no button on Twitter to report a user’s death and take down their account. You must navigate the help files to find out how to delete accounts, and unless you have the user ID and password, it can be very difficult and time consuming to go through the deletion process.

When we pass, we (of course) want to make things as easy as possible for those whom we leave behind. Good planning can make a significant difference in this regard. Part of that good planning is for your will to take into account your digital trail, and leave some instructions for its disposal (if that is what you want to happen).

That’s why, in addition to a will, another document, addressed to your Executor, and relating to your digital life, is so important. Social media accounts, online banking, investment accounts, email, all the elements of your online existence, should be cleaned up after your death. You will make your executor’s job much easier by providing the relevant information in a spreadsheet which contains your account login information, password, and any account data such as banking account numbers.

Creating this document will take only an hour or two, but will eliminate hours or weeks of work on the part of your loved ones. In Excel, simply list the accounts on the left then the user name and password on the right. You will want to periodically update the file, every six months or annually, as information changes or passwords are updated. Keep the file on your desktop where it can easily be found, as well as a hard or digital copy with your will.

Provide explicit instructions as to the end date of your social media accounts. A good rule of thumb is to terminate them within 60 days of your death. If your spouse wants to keep a record of the nice things people said about you, it’s easily printed for posterity. This general housecleaning of your digital life will allow your executor to wrap up loose ends as easily as possible, and is a thoughtful gift to leave behind.

Copyright © 2024 Heiman Law Firm. All Rights Reserved. Website by Butler I. T. and Higher ADvantage