Online accounts you have may hold some of your property (like photos or writings) or the site actually be the property (like domains names or income generating sites). Your estate planning should consider your online accounts and how you want them handled in the case of your death.
Unless you leave access instructions with someone, the account may be lost entirely, or at best be difficult to retrieve. The larger sites all have policies in place detailing how they handle requests for access from friends, family, or executors or deceased persons, and the policies vary widely – ranging from treating the account like a regular assett to requiring immense amounts of paperwork to grant access, to treating the account as the property of the site itself.
Facebook has a well defined policy for handling accounts of members who have died.
“When a person passes away, we memorialize their account to protect their privacy. Here are some of the key features of memorialized accounts:
- No one can log into a memorialized account and no new friends can be accepted
- Depending on the privacy settings of the deceased person’s account, friends can share memories on the memorialized timeline
- Anyone can send private messages to the deceased person
- Content the deceased person shared (ex: photos, posts) remains on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with
- Memorialized timelines don’t appear in People You May Know and other suggestions”