Planning Your Digital Legacy

November 8, 2021

Like almost everyone, you own a mobile device and computer. On these devices is a trove of digital assets, each requiring usernames and passwords. Digital assets can include social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, to email, photos, videos, e-wallets, cryptocurrencies, text messages, and more. These assets can provide significant sentimental or financial value to you and your loved ones. As such, it’s important that you plan for scenarios where family members and an executor will need to gain access to these assets. HereToday offers a straightforward platform to safely guide access to your favorite digital assets for future preservation.

Inventory your Digital Assets

Create an inventory of your digital assets, including documentation on how to access the accounts or items, as well as if these assets have a financial value. The outline of these assets should be listed in your will or estate plan. Additionally, the inventory document should be uploaded to your HereToday Vault; in doing so, it provides quick and easy access for your executor.

Leave Clear Instructions

With each asset on your list, instruct an executor and loved ones how to manage them in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. It’s best to be as specific as possible. Prior to sharing account usernames and passwords, please review our statement on the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA).

If you want an executor to have access to your digital assets, you MUST clearly provide such statements in your will. Additionally, leave detailed instructions on how to access your accounts and files. This ensures an executor can legally close out your digital legacy.

Managing your Digital Assets

As you prepare a digital assets inventory list, including an instructional document for accessing your accounts, use language as if an executor and loved ones are new to such accounts. Not everyone is technologically competent. Also, to avoid confusion, consider appointing a digital executor to manage who can and cannot access your digital assets. Fortunately, several platforms, as outlined below, have user provisions that allow you to determine how your accounts should be managed upon passing.

Facebook

Meta Platforms, Inc., parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, enables you to choose one of two options for managing your accounts. These options include a memorialized account, or you can have your account permanently removed from their platforms.

If you want a memorialized account, you will need to appoint a legacy contact. Per Facebook, “a legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your account if it’s memorialized after you’ve passed away. If you add a legacy contact, that person will be able to make decisions about your account once it is memorialized.”

Your legacy contact can:

  • Write a pinned post for your profile (example: to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service).
  • Update your profile picture and cover photo.
  • Request the removal of your account.
  • Download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook.

If you desire a memorialized account, a place for family and friends to gather and celebrate your life, your profile will no longer appear in the platform’s public spaces.

Conversely, if you decide to have your Facebook account permanently deleted, all messages, photos, posts, and comments will be immediately removed from the platform. Per Facebook support, here’s a link to instructions for removing the account upon your passing.

We recommend you leave clear instructions for your executor, including the Facebook account memorialization or removal link, in your estate plans.

Instagram

Although Instagram is owned by Meta, like Facebook, the platform does not have a legacy contact feature. At this time, your options are to delete or memorialize the account.

Per Instagram, “memorialized accounts are a place to remember someone’s life after they’ve passed away. Memorialized accounts on Instagram have the following key features:

  • No one can log into a memorialized account.
  • The word Remembering will be shown next to the person’s name on their profile.
  • Posts the deceased person shared, including photos and videos, stay on Instagram and are visible to the audience they were shared with.
  • Memorialized accounts don’t appear in certain places on Instagram, like Explore.

Once memorialized, no one will be able to make changes to any of the account’s existing posts or information.”

Apple

Apple’s new Digital Legacy solution enables you to designate an executor who can request access to your account. In doing so, approved individuals will have your account’s Activation Lock removed from applicable devices. When the Activation Lock is removed, an executor will gain access to your Apple ID, which enables them to retrieve account data, photos, and videos.

Per Apple’s iCloud Terms of Service, “With Digital Legacy, you can choose to add one or more contacts to access and download certain data in your account after your death. If your designated contacts provide proof of death to Apple and have the required key, they will automatically obtain access to that certain account data and activation lock will be removed from all your devices. Thus, it is your responsibility to keep your Digital Legacy contacts up to date.”

Google

Using Google’s user-friendly Inactive Account Manager tool, you can decide to deactivate your account, or pass selected account information to an executor or loved ones after a predetermined amount of time.

LinkedIn

Like many of the popular social media platforms, LinkedIn can close or memorialize your account if an executor presents proper documentation. Please note, LinkedIn can take two to three weeks to remove all your data from their platform. Here’s a link to LinkedIn’s page for requesting the removal of an account.

If your account is memorialized, no usernames or passwords will be divulged, not even to loved ones. Per LinkedIn, “​​Memorialized accounts allow a person’s legacy to remain on LinkedIn after they’ve passed away. The profile will be marked as Memorialized and access to the account is locked.”

Overview

Ensure an executor and loved ones can access and manage your digital assets. It’s important to understand how each platform handles requests from an executor. Educate yourself now – Most importantly, don’t forget to organize your HereToday Vault to clearly inventory your digital assets and include clear management instructions for an executor.

 

Disclaimer. HereToday is not a legal service. This content should not be taken as legal advice. Before drafting any legal document, please consult an attorney.

Follow HereToday on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.