There are 7.5 billion people on Earth, and more than 1 billion of them use Facebook. That’s a staggering amount, but what is even more staggering is that in the not too distant future there will be more accounts with dead owners than living.
In fact, 428 people with Facebook profiles die every hour. That’s 10,273 a day.
So what happens to your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube accounts after you die? Do they just float there somewhere online for eternity? Is there anything you can do about it?
With more and more people using the internet for every aspect of their lives, from online banking and dating, to ordering food deliveries and sharing photos, there could be a surprising amount of personal information about you held online.
So the question has started to be asked:
Do you need to include your digital assets in your will?
We all should have a will. If you want to ensure that your digital assets and online profiles are kept safe or removed from the world wide web after you’ve passed away, you should keep a document somewhere safe with passwords to any accounts you want removed. You can also use a password management system for this which requires one strong password and holds the rest of your important passwords, so they are readily available for your executors to take action on them.
What information should I include?
You should include any passwords to electronic devices that hold important info that you’d like either your relative to have or to delete. Information that you might want to include are
- PIN numbers or passwords for your computer, laptop, tablets and smartphones
- Loyalty cards, membership numbers
- Medical IDs and insurance numbers
- Login details for your social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
- Web based photo libraries
- Shopping/ payment accounts such as eBay, PayPal, Amazon
- Recurring subscriptions and payment cards they’re charged to
- Copyrighted materials, trademarks, etc.
- Information or data that is stored electronically, whether stored online, in the cloud, or on a physical device
The list could go on. At present most people are not making plans for their online presence or digital assets which means their loved ones struggle to make sense of and know what to do with online accounts. In some circumstance, they will need to save, transfer, cancel or close accounts. Even though for certain accounts you may not care about what happens to them, they may be of a lot of sentimental value to your family – especially profiles that contain photos.
What will happen to my information if I don’t have plans in place?
Currently each different social media platform will have their own policies on what happens if it’s owner is deceased. Facebook, for example, will allow the family to turn it a memorial page.
For more information on wills, please visit our pages on wills here.
Or speak to one of our specialist legal team on 0800 614 722.