Disposition of Digital Accounts Upon Death

With so much to consider in estate planning, one aspect that is often overlooked is the disposition of digital accounts upon death. Many people have numerous digital accounts such as blogs, social networking identities and digital files. If no action is taken, these accounts remain online upon death, potentially indefinitely. However, you can leave instructions for your executor about your preferred disposition for the accounts.

You should think about:

  • social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn
  • blogs and licensed domain names
  • online communities or listserves
  • music, photos, or other files that you store online
  • seller’s accounts on Amazon, eBay, or Itsy, and
  • access to financial accounts or utilities

Most of your online accounts will not pass through your will or other estate planning device because they are not your property. Social network accounts, domain name registrations, email accounts, and most other types of online accounts are yours by license only. When you die, the contract ends and the business that administers the account controls it. However, you can leave instructions describing your wishes.

For example, for social media accounts, each company has its own policy on the accounts of deceased members. Some, such as Facebook, will put the account into “memorial” status, so that the account can still be viewed and memorial messages may be left for the deceased person. Other companies will delete or deactivate the account You could have your executor post a final status update or tweet after your death and/or delete the account.

For your estate planning needs, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.

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The personal injury law firm of Goldberg & Chase, LLP. in Brooklyn, New York represents clients throughout the New York (NYC) metropolitan area, including the five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens. The counties we serve include Suffolk County, Nassau County, Westchester County, and Putnam County.