Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Digital Accounts at Death

Question: What happens to a person’s digital accounts at death?

Answer: More online companies (Facebook, Google, etc.) are giving users the ability to control what happens to their digital accounts after they die.

Facebook, for example allows a person to name a ‘legacy contact’ to manage one’s Facebook account after death. The legacy contact can write a post to display on one’s profile page, can change one’s profile picture and can even respond to new friend requests on the deceased person’s behalf. If there is no legacy contact named, then Facebook will simply freeze the person’s account at death and leave pictures and posts at the privacy settings that were pre-determined. If a person is given the authority to act as one’s ‘digital heir’ in a valid Will, then Facebook will designate that person. Google also allows a person to choose what to do with a digital Google account after death. The legacy contact in ‘Google-Speak” is called an ‘inactive account manager’. You can nominate an inactive account manager on your Google account settings page. Comment: Generally the Personal Representative of the estate is given access and authority over a person’s digital accounts after death. It is therefore important that a person’s Will contains references to one’s digital accounts. If you have any questions or would like more information please contact Steve Shane at: | 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Head Shot for webSteve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.

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