How to Put Your Social Media Profiles in Your Will
Dealing with your online profiles after you're gone
Now, more than ever, our lives are becoming digital. All aspects of our lives are being stored online; our photos, personal information, family, friends, interests etc. Our social media profiles are a big part of today’s society, and we use them to get to know people and express ourselves. But what happens to these online personas after we pass on? This guide outlines the possibilities.
Your Social Media
Your presence online depends on you and how much you choose to share with the world throughout your life. Most of us have at least one social media account, not to mention other online profiles used for shopping, travel, school, work, or services (such as LawPath). We have all heard the importance of privacy online, and how it can affect our lives. Breaches of privacy can lead to defamation, identity theft, monetary theft, and embarrassment. But have you ever thought of how your social media can affect your legacy after you die? Or how they may affect your friends and family?
Alternatively, your social media accounts contain important memories about your life; do you want to live on through those online memories, or discard them when you die?
After You Pass Away
Most social media platforms have terms in their contracts that deal with what happens to your accounts after you die (although this is not common knowledge). Most free services will likely go on forever unless someone disables or deletes them. Disabling accounts from the company’s end does not usually occur unless the account holder does something that violates the terms and conditions of the contract. The most plausible way to edit or delete your account after you die is to have someone do this on your behalf. Due to the fact that most of these accounts will require a username and password to make changes, you will need to arrange for someone to have access to this information. Social media platforms nowadays can be contacted and notified of the death of one of their users. Sometimes family members can contact the sites to deactivate accounts, usually they require some form of ID and proof of their relation to you. Each platform has a different set of rules. It might be worthwhile to familiarise yourself with these rules so you can form a plan upon your passing away.
How to Write This Into Your Will
It is a good idea to include a future plan for your social media accounts in your will to give your friends and family peace of mind.
There are several things to consider when deciding what to do with your accounts:
- Do you want to simply delete them?
- Do you want to maintain them so that people can still visit your virtual profile?
- Do you want someone to manage your account and make changes on your behalf? And if so, who will you entrust?
For example, Facebook has a useful option to appoint a legacy contact. This is someone that you trust to have access to your account after you die; they can act on their own accord, or in accordance with your instructions. You may also want to include your login details in your will.
You should make a list of all the accounts you have and leave instructions on how to proceed with them. There is not much Australian Law that governs digital inheritance or estates, due to it being a very new issue, which is why a detailed will is important in these instances.
Regardless of who you choose to share your information with online, you should never share personal information such as banking details, passwords and other secure information.
Although you may trust everyone you deal with online, sharing things like your location, date of birth, and family history may negatively affect you and your family and friends. Always be cautious online.
But it is always a good idea to plan ahead if something were to happen to you.
Need further advice? Contact a LawPath Consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising your own will, legal documents, and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.
Akira is a legal intern at Lawpath working in the content team. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University.