12 Jan What happens to your online accounts when you die?
What happens to your online accounts when you die?
As our online presence becomes increasingly prevalent it is still uncommon for people to consider what happens to their online accounts after they die.
Losing a loved one is always a hard time, but this can become even more difficult by receiving “on this day” memories of the person at an unexpected time. You might expect to get emotional when you see their birthday reminder pop up on Facebook, but it is the random memories that can hit you at any time that make it more challenging.
Social Media Status after you die
It is estimates that within 50 years there will be more Facebook accounts for dead members than there are for living members. You may therefore wish to consider your online presence not just during your life, but also after and how to pass on control. Some media platforms do not automatically recognise next of kin to control a deceased’s social media account.
Australia currently has no overriding legislation dealing with the rights to access social media after death. The NSW Law Reform Commission realised this was a problem earlier this year and recommended that laws be enacted to allow access to the accounts of deceased or incapacitated members.
As there is currently no legislation many families are left following the varying rules of all the different platforms.
Facebook now allows you to set up a “legacy contact”. This is a person who will be able to change your account from an active account to a memorial page. They will also be able to moderate posts that people make about the deceased. However, they will not have access to all your messages, viewed ads or your security or settings information.
Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all have processes that allow for the deceased’s family or estate administrators to deactivate or delete their accounts. This will usually require some documentation such as the death certificate and ID of the person making the request.
When your Social Media makes money- use a Digital Assets Clause in your Will
If you regularly use social media and have a number of accounts, it might be worth including a digital assets clause in your Will to instruct your executor as to what to do with your online presence. You could instruct them to delete all your accounts as soon as possible and to not keep any as memorial sites for you.
Another reason to include a digital assets clause in your Will is if you make money from digital assets and need to direct to whom those funds go.
With all the challenges of 2020 more people have moved to online measures to make an income. We are constantly hearing about social media influencers, Youtubers and Tik-Tokers making substantial sums from their online presence, but what happens to this once they pass away?
When considering a person’s assets most people would consider bank accounts and shares. Most don’t consider their You Tube channel or Etsy page which could be making them a substantial amount of money.
Paid You Tube videos can continue to earn income for years after they have been posted. Even if you are not actively using You Tube for a profit, you could still be receiving a small sum for a number of years.
Online subscription sites like Patreon could still be selling subscriptions to your page even after you have passed away. With digital assets like this it is important that you leave clear instructions in your Will for who is to inherit the income for these sites as well as who has access to them after you pass away.
As social media and online assets become more prevalent in our everyday lives it is important to consider them when planning your estate. Contact us today to take advantage of our free half hour legal consults. They can be done in person or via Skype or telephone conference.