Facebook Makes Changes to Allow Your Page to Live On

One of the current “hot topics” in estate planning is how to deal with someone’s digital assets.  The Successor  Trustee or Personal Representative you name in your planning documents can collect your physical assets, as well as traditional financial assets such as bank accounts and stock holdings, and can terminate your contracts with phone and cable providers.  But what about your online accounts for Bitcoin, or even to pay your bills?  Who has the passwords for all of your various on-line accounts that may need to be managed after your death?  And what about all of your photos and other personal information on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook?

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has drafted language regarding Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets, which can either be proposed as a free-standing law or as an amendment to a state’s Probate Code or Power of Attorney Laws. Laws have been introduced in at least thirteen states. For more information, go to www.uniformlaws.org/Digital Assets Act.    In 2013, a statute was passed in Virginia to allow the parents or guardians of a deceased child to take control of that child’s online accounts.

In the meantime, Facebook has recently made some changes to allow a subscriber to designate someone as her Facebook Estate Executor after her death.

Previously, when Facebook was informed that a user had died, they would verify the death and “memorialize” the account, meaning that it could be viewed, but it could not be edited or changed, even to delete it.   Since that policy was implemented in 2007, Facebook acknowledges that they have received hundreds of thousands of requests from family members to download photos or post funeral information on their deceased loved one’s page.

To designate your Facebook legacy contact, go to “Settings” and choose “Security” on the left side of the page. Click on “Legacy Contact” and name a contact who is on your list of friends. The system will offer an option to send that person a message, and will even provide an initial draft of what that message should say.


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