- afterlife company: There are several companies out there will store your digital assets and instructions online. Some of these afterlife companies even have the option for users to send notes and e-mails to loved one’s after the user has passed away. Under this method, you would only need to have the afterlife companies log-in information in your trust which would provide access to all of your digital assets.
Deceased User Policies
As mentioned above, many digital account providers have their own set of user policies (Terms of Service Agreements and Privacy Policies) which dictate how their online and digital accounts are treated after the death or incapacity of the user. It is not uncommon for these to expire when the user dies. Here is a list of the current user policies as of January 2016 for some popular account providers:
Facebook & Instagram deceased user policy:
- Facebook’s Deceased User Policy: Facebook will not provide login information for someone else’s account and it is against their policy to log into another person’s account.
- Planning Ahead: If you have a Facebook account, you can elect to have your account permanently deleted or be memorialized after you pass away. Here are instructions on how to set this up in facebook.
- What happens if there is no planning: If the user does not select whether they want their account memorialized or deleted, their family can request to have the account memorialized or deleted.
Google, Gmail, Google+ deceased user policy
- Google’s Deceased User Policy: Google does not allow another user to login to a user’s account and is not able to provide passwords for a deceased user.
- Planning Ahead: Google allows its users to determine who should have access to their information and whether the user would like for his or her account to be deleted upon death. Users can set this up through Googles “Inactive Account Manager”.
- What happens if you don’t plan?: Google has a team that will work with the deceased representatives or immediate family members to close online accounts. Google still needs to be notified that a user is deceased.
LinkedIn deceased user policy
- LinkedIn’s Deceased User Policy: LinkedIn only allows a users account to be deleted after a person is deceased
- Planning Ahead: You should include your username and password in your trust, or use a third party password management tool. If your loved ones have your account information, they try and log in prior to closing the account to download the deceased’s contact information.
- What happens if you don’t plan?: Anyone can make a request to remove the deceased persons account.
Apple Account deceased user policy:
- Apple’s Deceased User Policy: Apples user policy states: “You may not rent, lease, lend, sell, transfer, redistribute, or sublicense the Licensed Application and, if you sell your Mac Computer or iOS Device to a third party, you must remove the Licensed Application from the Mac Computer or iOS Device before doing so. “
- Planning Ahead: If you have an applie account, you can include your username and password in your trust, or use a third party password management tool, but understand that by doing this you may be violating Apple’s deceased user policy, so tread lightly and seek legal counsel.
- What happens if you don’t plan?: Apple does not have a online process for closing an Apple ID. In order to do so, you must contact apple support.
Twitter deceased user policy
- Twitter’s Deceased User Policy: Twitter will not provide allow anyone other than the user to access the account, however they will work with an authorized representative of the deceased user’s estate to deactivate the account.
- Planning Ahead: Again, you could leave the log-in information to your Twitter account to a trusted friend or family member and they could continue using the account. In addition, there are third party services that create an automatic back-up of your Tweets.
- What happens if you don’t plan?: According to the Twitter policy “a person authorized to act on the behalf of the estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased” can make a request to deactivate the account.
Microsoft, Outlook, and Hotmail Accounts deceased user policy
- Microsoft’s Deceased User Policy: Microsoft has a team that will release a users content to a next of kin or a guardian. To ensure security, Microsoft will not provide a users password or transfer ownership of an account to the deceased. Microsoft’s team will take the content of the deceased (or incapacitated) user and transfer it on to a DVD, which they then ship to you. You can request the content by emailing Microsoft Custodian of Records at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Planning Ahead: You can leave your log-in information with a trusted family member or friend and they would be able to continue using the account.
- What happens if you don’t plan?: Your family can contact Microsoft’s Custodian of Records to receive the DVD mentioned above, however they cannot continue to use the account.
Yahoo Accounts deceased user policy
- Yahoo’s Deceased User Policy: Yahoo’s Terms of Service (TOS) state that a users Yahoo account and its content are not transferable in any event.
- Planning Ahead: Again, the best plan may be to share your log-in information with a trusted friend or family member; use an online service to store and protect your username and password; or put the log-in information into a trust.
- What happens if you don’t plan? Family members or a representative may request from yahoo that the account be closed and any billing or premium services suspended. All content on the yahoo account will be permanently deleted.
While it is not possible to predict the future, it is clear than more and more of our social and business interactions are being conducted digitally. The more that our lives revolve around digital assets, the more important it is that they are able to be accessed by your loved ones. Find an estate planning attorney that is well versed in digital assets, and plan accordingly. In doing so you will help make the transfer of your assets much easier, and improve the likelihood that your wishes are upheld.
If you would like to talk about how we can incorporate your digital assets into your estate plan we would be more than happy to talk to you.