Your Digital Legacy: Does Your Will Address Your Online Accounts?

Law Blog

Estate planning can be a complicated business, but there's one area that's frequently overlooked: internet accounts, including access to the deceased's social media pages. However, one social media giant recently made news with a policy that now allows people to bequeath their accounts (or have them deleted) after death. The move has helped focus attention on a complicated problem.

Not All States Have Laws Addressing Digital Assets.

In 2014, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act  (UFADAA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission. The Uniform Law Commission is a group of legislatures and lawyers from every state. Essentially, they're urging all states to develop laws to address the issue of who gets control of digital assets after someone's death, based on the model proposed in the UFADAA.

While it's a step in the right direction, most states still don't have any laws specifically addressing the problem. Only 19 states currently have legislation on the issue. Even some of those state laws require a lengthy process that can take weeks or months to finish, by the time a death certificate has been issued and records of an executor's appointment has been reviewed by the courts.

The lack of clarity has made it difficult for survivors when loved ones die without directing who can receive access to their digital world. Even some online sites don't have clear policies on how to deal with accounts once the user has died. Others are highly restrictive, and follow their own rules in the absence of anything like a clearly defined will.

Is It That Important To Have Someone Officially In Control Of Your Digital Assets?

You may not have a digital account that rakes in a lot of money, but the odds are very good that you have things that only exist in the digital world that are still of significant value emotionally, if not monetarily. And, you may want to exert some control over how those things get handled.

That means doing three things:

  1. Address the issue in your will, using language that specifically grants your executor the right to access and control your online accounts and other digital assets.
  2. Keep an inventory of all of your electronics, online accounts, and the access codes or passwords for each.
  3. Leave instructions that detail what you want done with your accounts.

For example, do you want all of your digital photos deleted? Or should your executor print out all of the photos of you and your children and distribute them in some fashion? What about your social media accounts? Do you have a farewell message? Do you want the account deleted or left as a memorial?

A Digital Legacy Has Replaced A Paper One.

Think of your digital photos, old emails, social media pages, and blogs as no different than physical photo albums, handwritten letters, scrapbooks and diaries. They are essentially the modern version of what many people consider family heirlooms. As such, they deserve careful consideration.

You don't want them to become a source of conflict or pain for your heirs - and you may want them preserved as part of your personal legacy. Talk to your family law attorney today about your digital accounts when you set up your estate plan so that they are handled the way that you want them to be once you are gone. For more information, contact a lawyer at


5 March 2015

Choosing To Fight

Although I am far from perfect, I have focused on abiding by the local laws for the vast majority of my life. Unfortunately, about five years ago, I realized that I was being accused of a crime that I didn't commit. I thought about letting the trial run its course, but then I realized that fighting would be important to ensure my future. I teamed up with a great lawyer, and things became much easier overnight. My legal counsel told me what to do and what to avoid, and he was able to prove the facts in a court of law. This blog is all about choosing to fight charges.