Even Facebook Wants You to Plan! Digital Assets!
Digital Assets are a relatively new phenomenon that many of us don’t take into consideration when during our estate planning. Many of us have online bank accounts, social media accounts and cloud based data storage. Some of us have businesses that hold our intellectual property “in the cloud.”
When you pass away or if you become incapacitated would there be access to the assets? In this time, where we live with so many things “in the cloud” or on the web for “easy” access for us is there a plan to enable someone else to manage the assets upon your death or incapacity? I have supported families who were challenged by this reality when bank accounts were not accessible and bills needed to be paid but the financial provider didn’t have a power of attorney in place.
The Griffin Firm has worked with people who are struggling to apply for benefits, but are unable to because availability of information about the assets of their loved one is private and their loved one is incompetent, thus unable to appoint a power or attorney. In this circumstance, a court procedure of securing guardianship is necessary to gain access and control which takes considerable time and expense. This expense and distress can be eliminated by planning ahead with a Durable Power of Attorney.
I am happy to say that Facebook has encountered this problem and handled it in a way that seems to make sense while being supportive and caring, yet maintaining the privacy of the Facebook account holder.
Those of us who have a presence on Facebook have had the experience of a friend who passes away and their page is still visible. Sometimes “friends” will continue to post onto their page without knowing that this person has made a transition. Facebook has made a way to create a plan. This is not only distressful for those people who post and later found out that their “friend” is no longer living, it is difficult for loved ones to see the continuous postings and are compelled to reach out to the author to again share the sad news.
Facebook has created the capacity to Memorialize the Account. Memorialized accounts are a place for friends and family to gather and share memories after a person has passed away. Memorializing an account also helps keep it secure by preventing anyone from logging into the account.
If Facebook is made aware that a person has passed away, it’s policy to memorialize the account. Please keep in mind that Facebook can’t provide login information for someone else’s account even under these circumstances. The word Remembering will be shown next to the person’s name on their profile. Depending on privacy settings of the account, friends can share memories. Also, verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from Facebook.
While it may be difficult to remember all of the ways to manage assets and information, having a conversation and taking action is the first step to preparedness. The creation of a comprehensive estate plan is the answer. Now that you know, take action and Just do it!
By: Aimee D. Griffin, Esq.
Featured Article in The Washington Informer – January 2016
Photo Credit: plansonpurpose.wordpress.com