A breakthrough in digital estate planning has occurred.
In the past our license to use social media such as Facebook ended at our death, so no family or friend could have access unless we gave them our password and they “snuck in” without reporting our death. Technology is created by young people who move so fast that they hadn’t stopped to think about estate planning. This became a glaring omission when service persons in Afghanistan passed away and the families were not allowed to see their final emails or notify others via email or Facebook that they had passed over. There was no way to communicate with the hundreds of friends of a deceased family member.
Facebook, for the first time, allows us to name a “Legacy Contact” in the Securities section of our Settings. That means you can name the person you want to have access to your online Facebook account so they can post a memorial message, download your photos, etc. You can also choose instead to have your Facebook account deleted upon your death.
I hope other social media giants follow suit soon. As it stands, no one can reach your email, your online photo or music libraries without your passwords. Please be sure to make a secure list of your passwords if you want someone to be able to access your online accounts and assets. I use a software program called 1Password that automatically saves and populates my passwords for me saving them to my personal computer, so they’re not in the “cloud.” That way, I can have various passwords for all my accounts, but I only have to remember my one master password to retrieve them. Hallmark now makes handheld paper password journals that make handsome gifts for those who don’t like to keep passwords on any electronic device.
Take the first step and set your Legacy Contact on Facebook!