Including Social Media Accounts In Your Will
It’s not something we really want to think about, but it’s going to happen to all of us eventually. We’re all going to pass away, and it’s going to be an awful, stressful time for the loved ones we leave behind. This is why it’s important to make things as easy as possible for them.
Making a will is something you should do to ensure your family doesn’t have to worry about what you might have wanted when the time comes. It will be set out for them in black and white.
What you include in your will is up to you. But there are some potentially surprising inclusions you should think about.
Social Media Accounts
When you think about what to include in a will, do you think about property and financial assets? These assets should absolutely be included, but have you also thought about your online assets? Just about everyone now has a number of social media accounts. But what’s going to happen to them when you eventually log out for good?
It’s important to set out in your will what you want to happen to these accounts. You may want to shut them down or have them turned into online memorials. You should also name the person you want to arrange this for you and leave them instructions on how to access the accounts.
According to the US government: “If you have social media profiles set up online, you should create a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled. Just like a traditional will helps your survivors handle your physical belongings, social media will spell out how you want your online identity to be handled.”
Another thing you should think about when making your will is cryptocurrency. If you’ve invested in Bitcoin or something similar, don’t forget to address this in your will. But the challenge is that cryptocurrency is not like traditional financial assets. You need to provide certain information for your executor and beneficiaries to access it.
Your cryptocurrency won’t have the paper trail that your loved ones will need to locate it, so you need to first list what you own. Explain what your cryptocurrency is and where to find it. You’ll also have to clearly set out where to find it. If you have to use a specific device to access your cryptocurrency, you’ll have to explain this.
Because this information is sensitive – after all, you don’t want anyone knowing your PINs and other access information when they shouldn’t – you should create a separate document to include it. This document wouldn’t typically become public so you can feel more confident leaving your information there.
Online Gaming and Other Assets
Online gaming characters and accounts can be worth a lot of money. This means you should also think about them as an asset. However, there are a number of gaming sites that won’t let you leave your account to your loved ones. But you’re likely going to be able to leave your login information to your beneficiaries to use.
There are some assets that might prove trickier, though. If you’ve accumulated a great deal of downloaded music, films, and books, your beneficiaries might find it challenging to access them. That’s because of the companies responsible for selling them actually only sell you a license to use the files. You don’t really own the asset.
The UK’s Law Society recommends: “People should leave clear instructions about what should happen to their social media, computer games, and other online accounts after their death. Having a list of all your online accounts, such as email, banking, investments, and social networking sites will make it easier for family members to piece together your digital legacy, adhere to your wishes and could save time and money.”
Gary Rycroft, a partner at Joseph A Jones & Co Solicitors in the UK, has also encouraged people to think about what happens to digital assets with sentimental value.
Writing for the Law Society, he explained: “Unfortunately many online applications such as Flickr, YouTube and iTunes are accessed under license agreements, so you do not have the legal right to pass them on to your chosen beneficiaries.
“They are not tangible assets you can pass on to your beneficiaries like photographs or CDs would be. So take practical steps such as making sure you have backups or hard copies of items you want beneficiaries to view after your death. Remember you should also list them in a digital directory.”
Find out more about making a will here.
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