Digital Assets Part 2: Estates – What a Personal Representative Can and Can’t Do

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Attorney Colleen Carson

In Part 2 of Digital Assets, learn what happens in different scenarios with digital assets and how it may effect your estate. For example, what happens to your Facebook account, who can control it, can someone change it, what is a legacy contact and does your Facebook page get deleted or memorialized? What about Bitcoin or PayPal account disclosures? Can the personal representative access an email account and its content? These questions and many others are covered in attorney Colleen Carson’s short video below:

What Happens To Your Facebook Account When You Die?

Colleen Carson

By Attorney Colleen Carson

In today’s fast paced, technology driven age this is a question whose answer will affect many individuals. So, what exactly will happen to your Facebook account when you pass away and who will make that decision? Facebook offers users the ability to make this decision during life by providing two options. You can either choose to have your account memorialized, which transforms your profile into a place where your friends and family can gather to reminisce and share memories about you, or you can choose to have your account permanently deleted. In order to exercise one of these options and ensure your wishes are carried out, you must assign a legacy contact to your Facebook account during your lifetime. A legacy contact is the person you designate to manage your Facebook account upon your passing.

Facebook Memorialized Page

An example of a Memorialized Facebook page

At your death, any friend or family member can notify Facebook of your passing by filling out a Memorialization Request formFollowing this request, Facebook will solely grant your designated legacy contact the ability to manage your account, and if you choose to have your account memorialized, the word “Remembering” will appear next to your name on your profile. Assigning a Facebook legacy contact is important for the process of memorialization because your legacy contact is given permission to add additional posts to your timeline on your behalf, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile picture and cover photo. If you have chosen permanent deletion, your Facebook Deceased Person's Accountlegacy contact must fill out the Special Request for a Deceased Person’s Account form to have your account deleted. Having an assigned legacy contact ensures that your wish for your Facebook account, whether it be memorialization or permanent deletion, will be carried out.

In the event that you do not assign a legacy contact to your Facebook account, the process of carrying out your last wish becomes far more unpredictable.  Without a legacy contact you have no say as to whether your account is memorialized or permanently deleted. The option chosen will depend on the wishes of the first individual to contact Facebook regarding your account. Any person may request to have your account memorialized, but only a verified family member may request permanent deletion of your Facebookaccount. Facebook will either memorialize or permanently delete your account based on the instruction provided by the first person to contact them. Without deciding what to do with your Facebook account, one of your digital assets, during life and without assigning a Facebook legacy contact to carry out your decision, the fate of your Facebook account when you pass is both unpredictable and out of your control; as is the fate of all of your assets, without proper estate planning. If you want to learn more about protecting your assets when you pass and how proper estate planning acts as a fundamental element of that protection give BaskinFleece a call at (727) 572-4545.

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.