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Estate planning: Bidding a fond farewell to social media accounts

Almost everyone uses a computer these days. Most residents in Canada have a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But what happens to those accounts when the person to whom they belong dies? That question can actually be answered ahead of time by everyone who takes the time to do some estate planning.

Social media can be a wonderful tool for sharing with family and friends -- especially those who live far away. It's a way of keeping connected. While people are posting these things, they're not thinking about their demise and what might happen to all the posts once they've died, but there are certain social media sites like Facebook that have thought about it. 

If instructions are left in a will or another directive about social media sites in estate planning documents, the person will likely say what they want done with their social media pages. Some sites like Facebook, for example, have policies and procedures in place allowing a family member to deactivate an account or to turn it into a memorial page so family and friends still have access to all those memories. Someone who manages this account would be able to change profile pictures, allow new friends, but wouldn't be able to read messages.

Instagram, which is actually owned by Facebook has a similar policy. Other social media sites have their own rules governing the death of a user. Self-planning regarding these types of sites is important if a person wants to have some control over any personal information contained in them after he or she passes on. 

The wisest move may be to instruct a trusted family member or loved one with this task and give that individual any passwords or have them included in a document during estate planning. Getting some legal advice regarding this aspect of an estate plan might be a wise move. A lawyer in Canada may be able to provide some enlightening information regarding social media which can be used in an estate plan.

 

Source: cbc.ca, "What happens to your social media accounts when you die is up to you", RJ Skinner, Accessed on Jan 28, 2018

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