Of the seven billion people in the world, 1.51 billion people have a Facebook account, 310 million use twitter, and 100 million people use Instagram every month. The ever increasing popularity of technology and its usage across every generation young and old has raised the question as to what happens to your digital assets when you die assuming after death that is that us inveterate tweeters can in fact beat the bug and stop tweeting!
Your digital assets could be comprised of websites, email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, iTunes, Paypal and many other online programs and applications. Digital assets form part of your estate, and very few of us consider what we would like to happen to these accounts and information on our death.
If you don’t leave any instructions regarding your digital assets, your executor may have difficulties in deciding how to manage or shut down your accounts.
As every digital provider deals with the death of a member in a different way, we have outlined the process of a few of the popular providers to assist you in deciding how you wish for your digital assets to be dealt with.
Facebook & Instagram
Both are owned and operated by related companies and have the same procedures when it comes to a members death.
You can elect to have your account turned into a memorial page, where it remains on line for people to view, but steps are taken to secure your privacy, meaning that no posts or changes can be made to your page. In order to memorialise your account, a family member or friend must fill out a request form and provide proof of your death before Facebook or Instagram will consider and approve the request.
Your Executor or close family member can also request to have your account deactivated, and the contents removed completely. In both options, the contents of your page including photos and videos cannot be retrieved by your executor or family members.
iTunes and Google play
Apps, books, movies and music that you have paid and downloaded through your account can not be passed on to another person. The purchase of this type of digital content only grants you a licence to use those files, and that licence is non transferable to another person or device.
Should you wish for this type of digital content to be used by another person you will need to leave that person your device, and your account and password details.
Only in rare cases will email providers allow a person to access a deceased person’s account. A request can be made to these providers directly, however there is no guarantee that your executor will be granted access.
It is useful to keep details of your login and passwords somewhere that your executor can access particularly in circumstances were you have bills being sent to you electronically.
Twitter will not give anyone, no matter their relationship to you access to a deceased’s account. They will consider requests to have the account deactivated however this is not always guaranteed and in some circumstances your account may continue after you have passed away.
Should you have an active Paypal account on your death that is holding funds on your behalf, your Executor can submit a request to have the account deactivated. When proof of your death is provided to Paypal by your authorised representative Paypal will forward a cheque to your Estate for the balance of funds held on your behalf.
If you would like further details on how each provided deals with your account on your death, please review their terms and conditions.
Should you have specific wishes as to how you want your digital assets to be dealt with after you die, we encourage you to keep up-to-date records of your accounts, login details, passwords and answers to secret questions. Store this information with your will, or somewhere that your executor of family member can locate on your death.
If you would like further assistance please contact Beck Legal on 03 5445 3333.
Written by Alix Steed, Solicitor at Beck Legal.