Does your Facebook account match your estate plan?

Does your Facebook account match your estate plan?

February 16, 2015
by Jill W. Eshman, J.D., LL.M.

Can’t I just use someone’s user name and password to manage their online accounts after they die?

All thorough and complete estate plans will provide loved ones with their user names and passwords for online and other digital accounts, as this is essential for settling another’s affairs in today’s world.  However, a user name and password may not be enough. Many online providers have restrictions in their Terms of Use which restrict access to the account holder only.  Some online providers have altered their policies in recent years, and some states have enacted legislation to address the issue as well.

Facebook now allows you to name someone to manage your account posthumously, a “Legacy Contact.”  The Facebook Legacy Contact must be an existing Facebook friend.  There are still some limitations on what a Legacy Contact can and cannot do with your account.  Be sure that whomever you name as your Facebook “Legacy Contact” is the same person you have named in your Will or Trust to take control of, conduct, continue or terminate your social networking websites, any microblogging or message service websites or any e-mail service websites.  If your estate documents do not name someone to manage your digital assets, Idaho law (Id. Code §15-5-424) authorizes your personal representative to do so for you.  California has no such legislation, so providing for digital assets in your estate plan is even more important.

For more details on the Facebook Legacy Contact see this article.