This is an article from the Siegel Law Group P.A. (http://www.siegellawgroup.com/) in Boca Raton, Florida, that we thought others may find helpful.
Death is a topic that most people try to avoid talking about. But with the rise in social media over the past decade, many might wonder, “What happens to my Facebook profile when I die?” It can even be said that one may question where their most treasured Facebook photos end up, or who will have access to their accounts after they’ve passed. In a world that relies heavily on the Internet and social media interactions, each year this question becomes more frequent. So, where does all of your personal information go when you die?
Who can access my personal accounts?
Facebook is one of many social media platforms that require you to consent to the site’s terms of service in order to create an account. In their privacy statement, Facebook claims they are not allowed to issue login and password information to relatives of a person who has died. However, family members can contact Facebook directly and request to delete the deceased person’s account, or turn it into a memorial page.
If a family chooses to make a memorial page, the account can never again be logged into. This allows for the page to remain the same, but friends and family members can still leave comments and send messages to a loved one who has passed.
Other sites such as Twitter, and email services like Gmail and Hotmail also enforce policies that control what happens to accounts belonging to the deceased. According to Twitter’s terms of service, it will “work with a person authorized to act on the behalf of the estate or with a verified immediate family of the deceased to have an account deactivated.”
As for taking control of a Gmail or Google+ account, loved ones may need to take a few extra steps to get ahold of any personal information. As stated in the Google policy, an authorized representative of the deceased might be able to obtain information after careful review, but it is not always certain. Both Gmail and Hotmail require that the beneficiary of the estate send the required information in order to receive a CD of their loved one’s account information, from photos to personal email messages.
Planning Ahead with an Estate Planning Lawyer
After someone dies, they leave behind digital assets that will continue to live on in data archives and computer files. Just like you would need Estate Planning Services, it is also important to consider your options when managing your digital footprint. Several websites offer services that allow you delete, transfer, or update account information to authorized persons of your choosing.