A friend that I looked up to recently died. June Walbert, a Certified Financial Planner with USAA, recently lost her battle with cancer. June had a huge presence as one of USAA’s spokespersons on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. (Side Note: You should definitely check out her great personal finance videos on June Walbert’s YouTube channel)
But, June’s death happened to coincide with my own recent writing about estate planning and recently interviewed Rob Aschbach about estate planning for the Money Q&A Podcast a few weeks ago as well. So, to say that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about estate planning and what happens to our accounts and now our social media after death is an understatement.
So, the question remains. What happens to your social media after death? Where do your accounts go? Who owns all of that data and content? Does your family or your estate’s executor know where all of your social media accounts are at on the internet? Here’s what you need to know about your social media after death.
Your Social Media Accounts May Live On Without You
Do you have some skeletons in your social media closet? Are you tagged in some embarrassing photos of yourself on Facebook or Instagram? Not only is your Facebook and social media accounts jeopardizing your career, but this content has the potential to live on long after you have passed away if you are not careful. And, these might not be the most flattering either of course.
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How To Delete Or Memorialize A Facebook Account
It is Facebook’s company policy to memorialize the Facebook account of a person who has passed away. But, a verified immediate family member can request that Facebook delete the account altogether from the website though. There is a bigger question though as to who will own the content that is left on the social media site though. It is Facebook’s policy that memorialize accounts and its content such as photos, posts, and videos will stay with the account so it can continue to be shared with people as the deceased person had originally shared it. This may not be in keeping with the person or their family’s wishes though. That is why it is incredibly important to make your wishes known to your family about your social media after death.
What Happens To Your Twitter Account After Death
Much like Facebook, Twitter requires a deceased person’s next of kin or estate to notify Twitter of the fact. In almost every case, the responsibility is on the family to do all of the leg work. Twitter will work with the estate after verifying the immediate family member or executore of the deceased to have the Twitter account deactivated. You can see the exact steps that you have to take on Twitter’s website.
How Flickr Deals With Death
Flickr, the photo sharing and storage site, will keep a deceased person’s account running until an immediate family member notifies them with proof of the person’s death. Like most social media sites, Flickr will keep almost all pictures, except those labeled by the user as private, open for the public to see on its site.
Make A List Of Your Social Media Accounts
There are a lot of types of social media out there now. Beyond Facebook and Twitter, there is a plethora of websites out there that we are all using on a daily basis. Whether it is YouTube, Instagram, Flikr, Four Square, Google Plus, and the list goes on and on, our lives online continue to grow every day.
What happens to your social media after death? Where do your accounts go? Who owns all of that data and content? Does your family or your estate’s executor know where all of your social media accounts are at on the internet?
You need to make a list of all the online social media accounts that you own for your loved ones. You should add it as a letter of instruction to your last will and testament. Be sure that you include your username and passwords for your loved ones to easily be able to access your social media after death.
There are services now such as, Legacy Locker, which is a company that offers to store your website and social media passwords and account information in order to give them to a person that you designate once it is proven that you have died. The service does cost either a monthly fee or a one-time fee in most cases. You could almost do better including a letter of instruction listing all your accounts and passwords in your will yourself and save the fees.
Note: June Walbert was a rock start Certified Financial Planner (CFP) if there ever was such a thing. She was one of the best and someone that I wanted to emulate. I hope and pray that her legacy and passion to want to help people with their finances will continue to live on for a long time to come.