If I die will my family be able to access my Facebook page and all the photos I have stored online?
As we grow more and more dependent on the Internet for communication and storage of our important documents, it is smart to be concerned about what will happen to your electronic resources if you can’t access them. Privacy laws and complicated terms and conditions set down by sites such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook can make it almost impossible for a loved one to get into your accounts. Fortunately, a little planning can help solve this problem.
Believe it or not I think a lot about what will happen to all my online information when I die. Not only do I use sites such as Facebook and Instagram for fun, I manage my business using the Internet. As a freelance writer and marketing specialist I use the Internet all day long. If that weren’t enough, I manage two rental properties that are located out of town. That means I have dozens of accounts to important online tools and resources. If something should happen to me how will my family know which clients they should contact? How would they pick up where I left off on our family ventures? And what would become of all the photos I have stored online?
Oddly enough, you really don’t own your information once you sign up for Facebook, Google, Twitter and similar sites. That means whatever you have online does not pass to your estate. This seems to be changing as people are becoming more aware of the problems that can come up when they can’t get access to a loved one’s “Digital Estate.” But for now, you need to safeguard your information by making sure that someone you trust knows how to get into your accounts. As you are cataloging your login ids and passwords, remember to take security measures. Some experts recommend that you store the account information and the login credentials in two separate places. You can also store them in a location such as a safety deposit box.
There are some third party companies that offer services to help you catalog your accounts and Google has recently introduced an “Inactive Account Manager.” But the truth is, when someone dies, their accounts essentially die with them. Your best safeguard, at least for now, is to make a good list of accounts and passwords and store it in a very safe place.
To read a little more on the topic of “Digital Legacy,” here’s a link to a page on the Funeralwise.com site that explores the topic.