Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Who Gets Access to Your Facebook When you Die?

DigitalassetsMost people have social media accounts. In Asia, US, and Europe the laws have provided little guidance as to what happens to these accounts once you pass away. In most Asian countries, the ownership of your personal data goes back to the companies. However, US privacy laws protect user privacy even when you die. In fact, some Internet service providers are concerned about violating privacy laws so companies in the US are less likely to make your information public.

The companies in charge of social media accounts have handled inactive accounts in a variety of different ways. Facebook can memorialize your page, which prevents people from logging on to your inactive account. Twitter will deactivate your account so long as a death certificate is sent to the company. Google has enacted an inactive account manager app, which transfers your idol account to a delegated user after your death.

Estate Planners recommend drafting a will so that your personal representative will gain access to your social media accounts. For people without a will services such as “Perpetu” will help you manage your accounts post mortem. Despite these helpful services, there is some concern about conflicts between the estate plan and the account services. For some, it is much easier to keep an updated list of all of your accounts with their corresponding passwords to avoid the headache. 

See When you Die Does Your Facebook Go Too?, Wall Street Journal Live , Aug. 14, 2013.



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