Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Buzz About Social Media Wills

Unknown-1Almost half a million people with Facebook accounts passed away just in the last year, which leaves all of those pages for family members to manage. They are left to decide on leaving the account open, shutting it down, or converting it to a memorial page. A social-media will addresses these questions, and can also sort out what should be done with email accounts post-death. Even the US Government is recommending that you create a social-media will. You can address how you want your online identity to be handled, and you can appoint an executor to carry out these wishes.

Naomi Cahn, professor of law at George Washington University, suggests that you might want to form a trust or an informal agreement with information about your password to dictate how you would like for your accounts to be handled. This helps to avoid the publicity of a will. Another complication with a social-media will is that online accounts and their passwords are not static much of the time, so many people are unable to keep social-media wills up to date on all of the accounts that they have.

See Rebecca J. Rosen, The Government Would Like You to Write a ‘Social Media Will’, The Atlantic, May 3, 2012.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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