Protecting Your Facebook Profile on Death
It can be difficult to manage digital assets following the death of the owner. It is a relatively new phenomenon with few established rules.
Recognising the problem, Facebook have recently made it possible for users to nominate someone to inherit and manage their profile following their death. The nominated person will not be given complete control of the account, but will be able to change certain things (for example the profile picture), approve new friends, and write a final status update.
“This is a really helpful step. The digital world is not intuitive enough to know when you have died. Everything which happens automatically carries on. So when your birthday occurs, your friends and family are likely to face an upsetting reminder of your death in the form of a social media reminder encouraging them to wish you a happy birthday. Other social media sites and websites that retain content about users should follow Facebook’s move.”
Disputes are most likely to arise between beneficiaries and the companies that control the digital asset where there is monetary value attached to the asset, e.g. a Paypal account. However, the sentimental value that a Facebook account holds, and its potential to cause grief to loved ones if not properly managed, has been a difficult problem to solve.
Ridley & Hall have an expert private client team who can advise owners of digital assets. Jill recommends leaving instructions alongside your will as well as keeping a digital assets log. For now, this remains the most effective method of planning ahead.