E-state Planning: Should you Write a Social Media Will?

If youâ??ve ever wondered what happens to your Facebook® page after youâ??ve gone to that great status update in the sky, rest easy. A number of people are thinking along those same lines.

Legal experts, commentators and even the United States government are among those whoâ??ve weighed in on the subject of social media wills.

A social media will works much like a regular will. The difference is that instead of an executor dividing up property and financial holdings, the appointed caretaker attends to the online profile of the deceased.

Your online executor, or trustee, would take responsibility for the disposition of your email addresses, social media accounts, blogs and other facets of your Internet identity.

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, social media wills represent yet another subject where laws and customs havenâ??t caught up with technology.

Privacy concerns never die

Internet providers have reservations about granting a third party access to a customerâ??s email account, even when the customer is no longer around to use it. The main concerns involve privacy and fear of identity theft.

Internet services take considerable measures to protect their customers from hackers and identity thieves. Wireless Internet provider CLEAR, for example, shields information from prying eyes using a combination of licensed frequencies and encoding techniques.

But faced with the idea of a scammer trying to obtain passwords and other sensitive information by posing as an online executor, Internet providers are understandably worried.

Very little legal groundwork

Advocates would say that scams and mean-spirited pranks are exactly what a social media will is designed to prevent. If theyâ??re looking for the government to settle this argument, however, both sides are in for a disappointment.

Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Indiana and Idaho are the only states whose estate laws cover digital assets. And since the concept of managing your online afterlife is still new, firm legal precedents donâ??t really exist.

For the time being, some experts believe you should go ahead and make a social media will in the hopes that the legal landscape will become more settled as time goes on.

The online circle of life

A blog on the usa.gov website recently published a list of tips for writing a social media will. If the federal government has this issue on its radar, then it must be gaining traction.

Look for the trend to continue as the Internet becomes more and more ingrained into our daily lives, from cradle to grave.

Kyle Gordon

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