We spend a lot of time talking about and educating folks about what happens to their physical assets following their death or disability. Have you ever given any thought to what happens to your digital assets? We spend hours and hours on the Internet, and many of us have multiple online accounts: banking, credit cards, investment services, even shopping profiles. In fact, some people are such avid gamers that they buy and sell accounts, or hand them off to successors. While that probably doesn’t describe most of us, we still encourage our clients and friends to, at the most informal, leave a list of their online activities for their trusted loved ones, or, more formally, include digital information in their estate planning documents. (Get in touch with us to talk about this in greater detail.)
Many of us also invest a great deal of energy in our social media identities. Have you ever wondered what happens to, say, your Facebook profile once you’re no longer able to maintain it? Recently, our friend and colleague Anna Eckert Byrne brought the following information to our attention:
Facebook allows you to designate a “Legacy Contact” who will be allowed to access your Facebook profile if necessary. In order to add a Legacy Contact:
- Click the arrow in the top right corner of Facebook and select Settings
- In the left menu, click Security
- Click Legacy Contact
- Type in a friend’s name and click Add
- To let your friend know they’re now your legacy contact, click Send
Google has an “Inactive Account Manager” tool that allows you to set an amount of time you want Google to wait before taking action (3, 6, 9 months, or a year).
One month before that deadline, if Google hasn’t heard from you, it will send you an alert by either email or text message. If that month closes out and you still have not re-entered your account, Google will notify your “trusted contacts” — you can list up to 10 — and share your data with them if you have so chosen.
You may also set your account to delete any and all of the information in your Google account. To utilize “Inactive Account Manager”:
- Click your photo in the top right hand corner of your Google account
- Click My Account
- Under Personal Info and Privacy click Control your content
- Scroll down and click Change this Setting in the Inactive Account Manager box
- Click Setup
It seems that LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter do not yet have similar options, and we haven’t caught up with some of the other social media ‘you kids’ are using. Are you tech savvy, and know something we don’t about creating legacy or trusted contacts on social media? Please email information to email@example.com so we can update our list!