Can I Put My Social Media Accounts in a Will?​

We live in an increasingly digital age, where we share more and more of our lives online through social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms.

As a result of the increasing size of our digital footprint, it’s important to consider what will happen to your online presence when you die. This prompts many people to ask: "Can I include social media accounts in a Will?"

This is a constantly evolving area of estate planning and probate law, and one that is important to consider.

Digital Assets - Your Online Presence

The legal profession refers to your online presence as your digital assets, or your digital estate.

Digital assets typically fall into two categories: personal digital property, and digital assets used in a business.

Personal digital property includes:

  • Any online accounts, including:
    • Email (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail)
    • Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)
    • Shopping (Amazon, eBay, Target, Walmart, BestBuy)
    • Cloud storage (iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive)
    • Video streaming (Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, Vudu)
    • Music accounts (Pandora, Tidal, iTunes, Spotify)
    • Banking and money management accounts (Venmo, PayPal, Mint)
  • Software and data contained on computers, laptops, external hard drives, smartphones, iPads, digital cameras, or other digital devices
  • Blogs you author
  • Domain names

Digital business assets may include:

  • Any online accounts registered in the business name
  • Your business’ mail or subscription list containing company client information
  • Digital property owned by the business
  • The assets of any online storefront you may manage, such as an eBay store, Etsy account, or Shopify - including your customer history

Some of these digital assets could have significant monetary value, and may contain sensitive information including credit card numbers, billing information, and information that could be used to fraudulently open new accounts in your name after your death. The importance of protecting these assets cannot be understated.

What Happens to Your Digital Assets When You Die?

As a preliminary matter, it’s important to give some thought to how people will access your digital assets after your death.

Many people mistakenly believe that they do not need to include social media accounts in a Will. Instead, the believe that family members will be able to simply notify the social media organization of a death, and that the social media company will tell them what to do with the deceased person’s site and account. Unfortunately, without proper planning, that often is not the case. In some instances, it can be virtually impossible to access or shutdown someone’s social media account.

This is why it is important to plan for where you’ll store all of your passwords, and create a system that will allow others to access them.

Once you’ve decided how other people will access your social media accounts, you can consider what you want done with your social media presence.

Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

We encourage our clients to create a digital asset management plan as part of their estate plan. The digital asset management plan should allow the estate Executor to access passwords for the deceased person's social media accounts. Make sure you leave information for your Executor so they know what social media accounts you have, and how to access them.

Begin by making a list of all of your accounts, then specify the account details, including username, passwords and, if the account requires them, security questions and answers. Once you complete this inventory, store the document in a safe and secure location. We routinely advise our clients to leave this information in a sealed envelope that is given to the estate planning attorney. This document should be updated regularly.

You might also include a provision in your Power of Attorney that specifically allows your Executor to access online assets as necessary.

Next, consider the instructions that you want to leave to your estate Executor. What do you want this person to do with your digital assets?

Consider the following questions when formulating your digital asset estate plan:

  • How do you want digital assets handled? Do you want friends and associates to be notified of your passing? Do you want to social media profile taken down, or turned into an online ‘memorial’ where friends can leave thoughts, messages, and condolences?
  • Who do you trust to carry out your wishes on social media? It is important to chose someone you trust to handle your online legacy. Ideally, this person will also have adequate familiarity with the social media platform to be able to successfully perform this important task.
  • Discuss your social media legacy with a trusted legal advisor.

Of course, digital estate planning is no substitute for a traditional estate pan. Rather, it’s an important complement to a traditional estate plan that takes into consideration the ever-evolving digital landscape and how you wish to exist in it once you’re gone.

Contact Wolfe Legal Services Today for Help Setting Up Your Digital Asset Estate Plan

If you or your family need help creating a digital asset estate plan, contact Wolfe Legal Services today.

I have more than 23 years experience providing probate and estate planning services to people throughout greater Columbus, including Dublin, Worthington, Westerville, Bexley, Delaware, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Marysville, Hilliard, Delaware, and Newark, and throughout Franklin County, Delaware County, Pickaway County, Fairfield County, Union County, and Licking County. Call or Text (614) 263-5297 any time or complete our secure, confidential, and free online form located on the home page.

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