Tag: digital asset
Yesterday, I blogged about estate planning for cryptocurrency, a type of digital asset. Today, I provide a snapshot of what happens to some of your other digital assets when you die.
Facebook: When a Facebook user dies, their profile can either be memorialized or permanently deleted. The Facebook user can opt for one or the other while they’re still living. If a user does not choose to have their profile permanently deleted, Facebook will automatically memorialize the profile whenever they become aware of the user’s death. When a user proactively chooses to memorialize their profile, they can appoint a “legacy contact” to manage their memorialized profile. The legacy contact will have the authority to manage the memorialized profile but will not be permitted to log in to the deceased’s account, read the deceased’s messages, and add or remove friends.
Instagram: When an Instagram user dies, their account can either be memorialized or deleted. Anyone can request for a deceased person’s account to be memorialized, but only an immediate family member can request for an account to be deleted. Instagram will not memorialize an account without sufficient proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article. To delete an account, the requester is required to verify that they are an immediate family member by providing documentation such as the deceased person’s birth certificate, death certificate, or a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee for the deceased’s estate.
Twitter: When a Twitter user dies, a person authorized to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate or a verified immediate family member of the deceased can request to have the deceased person’s account deactivated. In order to complete this request, Twitter requires a copy of the requester’s ID and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate. Twitter also does not permit anyone to access the deceased person’s account.
LinkedIn: When a LinkedIn user dies, anyone can request to have that person’s LinkedIn profile removed. A person can request that an account be removed by filling out a form with information on the deceased and submitting the form to LinkedIn for their review.
Google: When a Google user dies, their immediate family members and/or the executor of their estate can request to close the deceased’s account. Google will not permit anyone to log into the deceased person’s account; however, individuals can ask Google to provide content from the account. With respect to these requests, a court order issued in the United States is apparently required before Google releases any information. To circumvent this, Google users can use their Inactive Account Manager to automatically share their data with “trusted contacts” after a period of inactivity.
As illustrated by the above, different online platforms restrict a family member’s and/or executor’s access to a deceased person’s online accounts to varying degrees. Notably, most platforms will not allow anyone to log in to a deceased person’s account. As such, if a person would like trusted relatives or friends to be able to access their online accounts following their death, they may want to take steps to ensure that their login credentials will be available to those trusted persons.
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Isn’t estate planning just for old, married, and rich people? This is a question that we face all of the time. The simple answer is – no.
Proper estate planning helps not only the old, but the young as well.
A recent US survey amongst 23 to 35 and 35 to 44 year olds indicates that, respectively, 80% and 67% of these groups do not have a Will. Closer to home, the percentages are quite similar. A Canadian survey found that 77.2% of 25 to 34 year olds and 67.9% of 35 to 44 year olds do not have a Will. A prior Hull & Hull blog highlights those Canadians that had a Will that needed updating.
Given that the leading cause of death amongst millennials is accidental and unintentional injuries, estate planning should not wait.
A recent article on Forbes highlights estate planning tips that every millennial should consider regardless of whether they are married, have dependants, or are still paying off student loans. Of course, professional advice should always be sought.
- Add beneficiaries to your accounts – designating beneficiaries on bank accounts and investments allows for the transfer of the asset to your intended recipient upon your passing. Including the recipient as a beneficiary, as opposed to a ‘joint owner’, ensures that they do not have access to the account (and funds), while alive leading to concerns of misappropriation. The Forbes author additionally suggests that these designations should be checked at least once a year in the event they need to be updated.
- Get a basic Will – nothing overly detailed or expensive is required. Carefully thinking through the choice of estate trustee(s) and the division of assets will not only ensure your wishes are followed, but will avoid the headache of proceeding with the administration of an intestate estate. The Forbes author additionally suggests having a secured list of your digital assets, along with the username and password.
- Consider life insurance to cover student loans – certain loans are not discharged upon death. Insurance helps alleviate the concern that a co-signatory, usually a parent, is not left with the burden of paying off the remainder of the loan.