It’s not something most people think about when setting up social media accounts or when estate planning activities begin. However, like all of your other assets, you do have an opportunity to control your social media presence after you stop being social. Some sites provide a process for you to designate someone to manage your accounts after you are incapacitated or upon your death. Others have a process for reporting, but without your ability to establish your designee. Here is information on some of the more popular sites.
Google makes it easy via your Inactive Account Manager settings. View or change your settings at https://myaccount.google.com. Google already has a process to notify your designee when an account is not active for a specified period of time – you pick 3, 6 or 9 months. First Google will notify you 1 month prior to the inactive period deadline.
On this page with a few easy clicks, you can instruct Google to notify your trusted contact/s and allow them to access the data you identify. Just enter the person’s email and contact phone. You can list up to 10 people. Google will not share log-in information or passwords, but this is a way to ensure your data – those treasured pictures or family emails or business items, and more – are saved. Google will work with family members or a representative to remove your account, if requested.
Facebook also has a legacy option, which you will find under the Settings option. Again, this is a person you choose to manage your account upon incapacitation or death. They can pin a post on your Timeline, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile picture (Hmm). They cannot post as you or see your private messages. Select Manage Account and then add the contact information for your legacy rep. You are also able to select if they receive a notification that they are now your designee.
Twitter has a request process and a form to deactivate an account upon incapacitation or death of the account owner. This is obtained at https://help.twitter.com/forms/privacy.
Instagram provides another option, which is a bit different – it will memorialize the owner’s account upon notification. There is also a process to remove an account. Visit https://help.instagram.com/264154560391256.
Pinterest also has a process to deactivate an account. Visit https://help.pinterest.com/en/articles/reactivate-or-deactivate-account
Note that in cases where you do not identify the designee, proof of death and proof of your relationship to the account owner is required.
There are many more social media sites. Search settings for more information for other social media sites that you may use. More importantly, think about this as part of your assets, so you can manage this in your will and estate plan, and identify your legacy representative.
Madeline Parisi is Principal and Founder of Madeline Parisi & Associates LLC (MPA), located in Barrington, Illinois. MPA specializes in business training and professional development, training material and content development, and meeting facilitation that will get you to deliver products and services faster. Madeline brings extensive knowledge and skills from experience in various industries including financial and credit management, law firm management, and IT audit, security, risk and governance.