Have you decided what will happen to your social networking accounts and your digital possessions when you are no more?
Like physical possessions, all the digital content that we create during our lifetime also has some value. Like your other worldly possessions, you should try to pass on your digital property also to someone in a planned manner by creating a digital will.
We all are aware of the significance of our social media accounts but we never imagine that who will access our digital accounts when we will be no more to access it.
How to make a Digital Will to access your social media accounts when you’ll be no more?
Like your physical possessions, you should plan to pass on your digital contents and social media accounts also to your loved ones in a systematic manner.
If you don’t take the necessary steps, most of these sites won’t share the contents with your relatives, as doing so violates their terms of service. It was often found in many cases where friends and family members of the deceased have had to fight to get access to their online accounts.
Most major social media services such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, etc allow you to either designate a person in advance to manage your account after you, or to specify what should happen to it after your lifetime.
As per the report of the advocate of cyber laws “If an individual passes away without giving access to account details, the only way has the legacy contact family can obtain access is by approaching a court, and that can be a tedious process”.
Social Media accounts and their clauses:
# You can permanently delete your account or you can memorialize it.
# You need to appoint a legacy contact to look after your memorialized account.
# A legacy contact is a person who looks after the account if it’s memorialized.
# Once an account is memorialized, the legacy contact will have limited access to it.
# The person can share posts, change the profile picture and respond to new friend requests.
# He can also request for removal of the account.
# This practice has become quite popular in India, where family, relatives, and friends post a tribute or share funeral plans.
# It works on similar principles as Facebook.
# Family members or friends can request Instagram to memorialize or delete the account.
# In the event of a user’s death, Twitter accepts a request only from a verified immediate family member to deactivate the account.
# The family member needs to provide proof of identity, information about the deceased, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate.
# Twitter doesn’t provide access to the account to anyone.
LinkedIn and Pinterest:
# It has similar policies as Twitter.
# When notified of a user’s death, they delete the account after receiving all the necessary documents proving the person’s death.
# Its accounts include MSN, Live, Outlook, and Hotmail.
# It lets its users choose in advance either to close the account or keep it active.
# By providing legal proof (subpoena or court order), family members can get access to the account of the deceased user.
# Your Google accounts would include Gmail, Google+, and YouTube.
# It lets its users make arrangements in advance regarding what happens to their data and their accounts after their death.
# Firstly, it asks you to fix a time frame of three to eighteen months. After this waiting period ends, the account turns inactive.
# Thereafter, you can choose to have it deleted or you can share the information therein with select people.
# You can choose up to 10 people who will be notified about your account turning inactive.
# Depending on what you choose to share, they will get access to your data.
# You can also choose to delete your account.
# This will happen three months after it turns inactive.
# In case you delete an account, publicly shared data such as YouTube videos, blogs, and posts in Google+ will also get deleted.
How to create a Digital Will?
If a person doesn’t share his social media or digital account details before he dies, the only option is the family will have to move the court to recover the data. Service providers demand a court’s succession certificate to let a legal heir access the deceased’s accounts.
Getting a succession certificate takes a lot of time and can cause hassles to the family. The best way to handle digital assets is to create a Will for them, just as you would for your physical assets.
# You can mention your digital assets either in a physical Will, or you can create a digital Will, where you mention to whom your digital assets are to be bequeathed.
# A digital Will is similar to a physical Will, except that it carries a digital signature.
# This means that the family doesn’t have to worry about complications such as signature mismatch.
# You can get a digital Will created for your digital assets by your lawyer.
# You can also leave your passwords in a sealed envelope with a person you trust or open a digital locker and store these passwords.
# Details mentioned in the Will are stored securely in an encrypted format or in a bank locker. # Mentioning your digital assets in a Will helps determine which of your accounts should survive and which should be erased.
# For your family to get access to your electronic devices, either share your passwords with them or keep your devices backed up regularly through an online backup account so that your family can access the content.
# People can designate a trusted person to operate the locker after their demise.
As per the statement of the advocate of cyber laws “We create an inventory of all the digital assets of an individual, and then depending on what the executor wants, it is bequeathed to the intended person. The digital Will is signed off with the digital signature of the executor which won’t be challenged in the future, unlike physical signatures.” The digital signature has been granted legality under the IT Act.
It’s very vital to handover our digital accounts to our closed ones when we will be no more to access that. By making a digital will you can save you important digital accounts from misuse or hacking.