September 16, 2011
Have you ever wondered what would happen to all of the pictures and precious memories stored on your Twitter or Facebook pages after you die?
It’s certainly different than having loved ones sort through your old keepsake boxes in the attic and taking what they want after you are gone. When it comes to social networking sites (and even your private email accounts), loved ones will have a few more hurdles to gain control of your “digital assets” if the unthinkable happens.
For starters, they’ll need to know exactly what sites you belong to and how to access them. If your family doesn’t know that you have a private email account or pictures hosted on a Flikr account, chances are these memories will remain lost in cyberspace after you are gone.
Second, they’ll need your username and password in order to gain access to your accounts. Without this information, the family can only request that sites such as Facebook or Twitter “memorialize” your pages, which means they remain open for loved ones to post on but will not appear in “friend suggestions” or in the public search.
Finally, they’ll need instructions. What should your loved ones do with such digital assets? Who should be the beneficiary of these accounts? Are there any portions of your “online life” that you want to remain private and restrictively shared? You should outline your wishes about your “digital assets” the same way you would with any other account to ensure they are honored if the unthinkable happens.
An easy way to make sure this happens is to include your instructions about digital assets in your will or trust. This will provide your family with a clear and binding outline of your wishes—especially if you have privacy concerns or very specific actions your loved ones should take after you are gone.
If you already have a will or trust, just call your Sacramento estate planning attorney and ask to make an update. If you don’t yet have an estate plan, you can easily have one created with your “digital assets” in mind. Either way, take some time this week and make a plan for your precious memories to ensure they are preserved when you die.