Earlier this year, Hospice Waterloo Region hosted a workshop called “You Can’t Take Your Followers With You: How to Protect Your Passwords and Platforms Before You Die.” We did this in collaboration with Miller Thomson LLP, and it was a very popular session. We thought we would share some of the key takeaways here on HWR’s blog in case they are of use to you, or your family and friends.

Every day, without even thinking about it, many of us log into dozens of online accounts – from Facebook and Instagram, to online banking and streaming apps, to websites and even our phone. But what happens to all of those accounts (and passwords!) when we die? And how can we prepare?

There are several important steps you can take to protect your password and social media platforms, and to incorporate this into your estate planning.

1. Take an Inventory

An important first step is to take an inventory of your digital assets (did you know that the average person has 27 online accounts?!) Consider: social media, email, online banking, utilities, online shopping, entertainment and travel, blogs and websites, media/newspapers, general apps, finance accounts and websites (just to name a few). 

2. Manage Your Passwords

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution here. Some people will be more comfortable with keeping all of their passwords written down and securely stored away, and others will want to lock them down in an online app. The important thing is to know what the passwords are, and to feel secure with whatever option you choose. 

3. Consider Your Social Media Options

Several social media platforms offer different options when it comes to managing your online presence after you’ve passed.

FACEBOOK

Facebook offers memorialized accounts, which is a place for friends and family to share memories and tributes to you. The Page essentially stays the same, except the title changes to “Remembering…” and then your name. Memorialized accounts don’t appear in public places, and no one can log into them. 

But you don’t have to wait until you pass for friends and family to make decisions about your Facebook Page. You can make the decision now to:

  1. Have a Legacy Contact
  2. Delete your page once you pass away

Legacy Contact will look after your memorialized Page and make decisions about the posts and content on that Page after you’re gone. However, they won’t be able to log into your account, read your messages, or remove friends. If you consider adding a legacy contact, understand that this is a big responsibility.

But if you decide you don’t want a legacy contact, you can also choose to delete your page once you pass away. All of these options can be found under your general account settings. 

  1. Look for the little arrow in the top right-hand corner of your account
  2. Choose “Settings”
  3. Under “Memorialized Settings” click “Edit”

INSTAGRAM

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, also offers the option of memorializing an account or deleting the account. Here’s how to report a deceased person’s account on Instagram.

TWITTER

Twitter has promised to offer memorialized accounts in the future. For now, verified family members can contact the company to have an account deactivated. Be aware that Twitter also has a policy for sharing images or videos of the deceased. 

You can also deactivate a Google account, and a Pinterest account.

4. Consider Your Legal Options

According to Miller Thomson LLP, it’s also a good idea to inform your Executor/Attorney of your intentions with respect to the treatment of your digital assets both when you are incapable and upon your death. 

Preparing a Will and Powers of Attorney, which includes specific authority to deal with your digital assets, allows your designated person to deal with all of digital assets.

Have questions?

Feel free to contact Hospice of Waterloo Region at 519-743-4114.

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