What happens to your online accounts after you die? It’s an important question many people avoid. California Assembly member Ian Calderon recently introduced AB 691 which aims to provide the protections necessary to safeguard our personal information after we die and allow access to only those people designated to have access to our digital property.
For those with online accounts—this includes online bank accounts, social media accounts, and photography accounts—these are part of your digital estate. A recent kcra.com report, titled Have you planned your digital afterlife?, reminds us that a digital estate can cause real headaches for grieving loved ones who may be attempting to access those accounts. The report recommends that people write down their passwords and make sure their trusted relatives will have access.
Google has the option of having trusted contacts access their accounts or to have the data deleted after a specific period of inactivity. Facebook recently started the “legacy contact” option, which lets their users select someone to manage their pages after death. If a user doesn’t do anything, and Facebook discovers that the individual has passed, his or her posts will remain active and “memorialized” according to that user’s settings.
The original article says that it’s important for you to plan ahead and put someone in charge of these digital assets so your family would have the opportunity to take over if something were to happen to you—allowing them to control the information. One more thing: your digital estate planning should also incorporate your digital devices, like cellphones and laptops, along with the data they contain.
Pictures, music, videos, and documents make up our digital life. Make sure that you’re prepared to pass those on. An experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you through this process.