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Protecting your digital footprint after death

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A master list of all your online accounts will help your loved ones secure your digital identity after your death.

 

Create a social media plan

Even with your login information stored safely in the method of your choice, you still need to make a plan for what your loved ones should do with your social media accounts after you die.

With Facebook, you can appoint a Legacy Contact.2 You have the option within your Facebook account settings3 to designate someone who is a Facebook friend to manage your account after you die.

Facebook also allows you to memorialize your page4 after you die. Since Facebook can be a place where you've shared photos and life events, you might choose to keep your profile for family and friends to visit even after you've died.

With other social media accounts, you can explore settings and options for memorialization and emergency contacts. If you maintain a Gmail or Google account, you can use the Google Inactive Account Manager5 to transfer control of your account to a person of your choosing after a designated time when you die.

 

Make a digital plan for your accounts

After you've gathered all your online account information, you need to put your wishes into action. While many online accounts can be completely shut down, other accounts might need to stay up and running to help administer your estate.

Here are some accounts that might need to be secured yet remain active:

Utilities: Keep active until the house is sold and ownership is transferred.

Bank accounts: While only the executor or other authorized party will have access, you'll want to monitor the account for potential fraud until the assets inside are distributed.

Retirement accounts: These accounts will have trading frozen once the custodian is notified of your death. They'll remain open until paperwork is completed and assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.

 

Appoint a digital executor

To handle all of the above tasks, you could appoint a digital executor.6 While this executor typically wouldn't be named in your will or trust as a legal representative of your estate, they would be in charge of handling your online footprint after you die. You can name this person in a letter or instruction or have conversations with friends and family about naming someone who will be in charge of your digital presence after your death.

Your online executor can work hand-in-hand with the executor of your will or trustee of your trust to make sure your digital footprint is secured.

Important disclosure information

This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

  1. Andrew Cunningham and Thorin Klosowski, "The Best Password Managers," New York Times Wirecutter, updated September 15, 2020, accessed September 21, 2020. Back
  2. "What is a legacy contact and what can they do with my Facebook account?" Facebook, accessed September 17, 2020. Back
  3. "How do I add, change or remove my legacy contact on Facebook? " Facebook, accessed September 17, 2020. Back
  4. "What will happen to my Facebook account if I pass away? " Facebook, accessed September 17, 2020. Back
  5. "Inactive Account Manager," Google, accessed September 17, 2020. Back
  6. "How to name a digital executor," Everplans, accessed September 23, 2020. Back