Facebook Legacy Pages Begin to Answer Questions about Social Media Accounts in Wills or Trusts
When most people think of a will, they think of inheritance of property, money, stock options, or even debt. However, should a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media user consider putting their account in their living will or trusts?
Facebook seems to think yes. The billion-user-strong social media site has, as of February 12th, created the “legacy page,” which allows a user to designate someone to take over their account after they die – a “legacy contact” to manage their page a memorial or tribute – or outright delete their page in the event of death.
Facebook pages have, oddly enough, been a source of contention for friends and family after a loved one passes away. Family members, spouses, or close friends of the deceased have, for years, reached out to the social networking site to request the page be taken down, or requested access to the page to post updates on family members, funeral arrangements, or other information that might be pertinent to those who loved the user who passed away.
“We want to keep Facebook secure so we don’t allow people to share their password or let anyone else access their account,” said Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Facebook. “With the legacy contact, the user is giving permission in advance to a trusted friend or family member to manage specific aspects of the account.”
“This really grew out of seeing how people use Facebook for this purpose already,” said spokesman Andy Stone. “We’ve seen people use Facebook to grieve a person who has passed away, to remember that person, and to celebrate their life. It became clear to us that we could do more to support those who were grieving.”
“By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death,” said a recent post from Facebook’s product team.
Previously, Facebook would automatically freeze the account of someone who passed away, which would anger family members who wanted access to the page – often denied – or who wanted the page removed out of respect.
However, this is not the first time an internet company has offered a “will” or “trust” of user content. In 2013, Google became the first company that would allow users to select “digital heirs” for Gmail, G+, cloud storage, and other Google accounts.
As more of our life entwines with online content, whether that is uploading important documents or using social media as your main form of communication, it will be important to think about what happens to your “digital legacy” after you pass away.
South Carolina Will, Trust, and Estate Planning Attorneys
Social media accounts are not the only source of contention among relatives or friends after a loved one passes away. If the deceased leaves no will or testament, then the family could fight over who takes care of the house or bank accounts.
If you are concerned about who manages your assets after you pass away, then it will be important to set up a will or trust to ensure the proper management of your legacy, whether that is your digital legacy, your business, or your personal assets. The estate planning attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free consultations so you can meet our team and discuss your wishes for your SC will, trust, or estate plan needs. 803.252.4800