Your Digital Life: Terms of Service Agreements

Policies of the Top Sites

According to the site Internet Live Stats, there are more than a billion websites online right now, and that number continues to grow every day. Lucky for us, we only access a small number of these sites on a regular basis. Even at that, most of us actively use dozens of online providers and web services. In most cases, you were required to agree to a set of policies, referred to as Terms of Service Agreements for each of the online services you subscribe to. One of the things these agreements specify is under what conditions you are permitted to share your login information with others. Usually these standard agreements prohibit you from sharing your login information. This is important when considering how you want your Digital Assets handled once you are gone.

It is always a good idea to check the specific policies of the websites you are including in your digital legacy plan to see what information you are legally entitled to share. To help you we have provided the policies of the most popular providers below.

AMAZON Policies

Like iTunes, Amazon’s Terms and Conditions do not permit others from accessing information you have purchased through their site. Fortunately, Amazon does provide the ability to share content. Kindle accounts, for example, can be shared between 5 devices. If the main account holder is the deceased, however, this can get tricky. Your best bet is to contact Amazon directly.

EBAY Policies

Ebay’s user agreement does not permit transfer of accounts to others. According to Ebay’s online support pages, if you need to close an account due to death, you should contact their support team.

FACEBOOK Policies

Facebook allows family members to convert a deceased person’s account to a “memorized” status. Upon receiving proof of death sensitive personal information is deleted and the status of the account is changed. Facebook does not automatically delete inactive accounts so you do have some time to take action.

GOOGLE Policies

Google’s “Inactive Account Manager” allows you to designate how you would like your accounts handled if your account is inactive for a specified period of time. You can designate up to 10 people to handle your accounts. You can also let Google know that you would like your account deactivated.

iTUNES Policies

When you purchase items through the iTunes store you are purchasing a license to use the content whether it’s books, music, or video. You don’t technically own the item even if it is downloaded. The Apple license is non-transferable so it cannot be bequeathed to someone else. In order to avoid a problem with transferring content on someone’s death, you can use Apple Home Sharing which allows people in the same household to access a common library.

LINKED IN Policies

LinkedIn’s User Agreement does not permit you to share your login information. If you discover the profile of a person who has died, LinkedIn asks that you notify them and they will contact you to get more information. Once their verification process is complete, the profile of the deceased member will be deleted.

PAYPAL Policies

PayPal has an established process that an estate executor can work through in order to close a user’s account. Any funds remaining in the account when it is closed will be liquidated by check made out to the estate.

TWITTER Policies

Twitter allows family members to request that an account of a deceased member be deactivated. Twitter does not provide log-in information to the executor. Twitter previously provided for accounts to be archived but it is unclear whether or not this option is still available.

YAHOO Policies

Yahoo Terms of Service, state that “Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate, your account may be terminated and all contents therein permanently deleted.” When you agree to Yahoo’s terms and conditions you agree that your account information won’t be transferred without permission. Yahoo does recognize consent that is included in an estate plan at death, “users need to provide consent and their account information in their estate plans.”

YOUTUBE Policies

YouTube does not have a system for allowing the videos of deceased members to remain on the site. While there is technically no limit to the amount of time YouTube will permit to remain on the site, the company does purge inactive accounts from time to time. Should you need to activate access a loved one’s videos, YouTube may be able to help. While the process to gain access can be cumbersome, it has been used successfully in the past.

Contributor: Molly Gorny

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