Estate Planning with Social Media

As part of your estate planning, you should consider what you would like to happen to your social media accounts. Given the prevalence of social media and the rising concerns over privacy protection, this is becoming an increasingly important issue.

Facebook is the most obvious example. As we all know, Facebook is huge, with 864 million average daily users (source). Google results cite anywhere from 10 to 30 million additional accounts of users who have passed away. As the users of Facebook age, that number is expected to increase exponentially in future years. According to one source, Facebook is projected to have more profiles of dead people than of living people in either the 2060s or the 2130s.

To address this eventuality, Facebook recently rolled out a "Legacy Contact" option for its users. According to their information page on the topic, your Legacy Contact is someone you choose to look after your account if it's memorialized.

A Legacy Contact has limited powers. They can share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile picture and cover photo. However, a Legacy Contact cannot log directly into your account, remove or change past posts, photos and other things shared on your Timeline, read your private messages, or remove any of your friends.

To add or change your Facebook Legacy Contact, go to your Facebook Settings page. Through this page, you may also choose to have your Facebook page permanently deleted if you pass away. Additional instructions for setting up your Legacy Contact can be found here.

It is wise to review all your social media and other electronic accounts periodically and consider what you would like to happen to them in the event you pass away before getting the chance to shut them down yourself. Other social media platforms may or may not follow in Facebook's footsteps. You may want to keep a binder or other file (in a safe place!) of your login and password information, along with instructions for what to do.

Just one more way you can make things a little easier for your loved ones by doing some advanced planning.

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