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Virtual Afterlife: What Happens to Your Online Presence When You Pass Away?

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Have you considered what will happen to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts when you pass away?

Preparing a “digital estate plan” can help ensure that your personal information remains safe and your wishes for your online persona are carried out. This article outlines how to secure your online presence on each of the major social networking sites—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—as well as on blogs.

Facebook
Via the Facebook website, friends and family members can either request to have the deceased’s account “memorialized” or removed entirely.

  • Memorializing an account: This option allows the profile to be viewed by those whom the account holder had confirmed as “friends.” Friends may post on the deceased’s wall, but no one can log into the account once it has been memorialized.
  • Removal: Only immediate family members of the deceased may request the complete removal of a Facebook account.

Both options require proof of death, which can take the form of an obituary or news article. For more information, see How Do I Report a Deceased User or an Account That Needs to Be Memorialized? on Facebook’s website.

Twitter
To remove a Twitter account, the following information is required:

  • The deceased’s username, or a link to the account profile page
  • Link to the obituary or news article regarding the death

This information can be e-mailed to privacy@twitter.com or faxed to 415.222.9958. For more details, see How to Contact Twitter About a Deceased User.

LinkedIn
To report the passing of a LinkedIn member, the site’s Verification of Death Form must be completed and submitted. The information needed to fill out the form includes:

  • Account holder’s e-mail address
  • URL of LinkedIn profile
  • Date of death
  • Death notice

The form can be submitted through the LinkedIn website or faxed to 402.715.4536.

Free blog accounts
The various free blog services have different processes for dealing with deceased account holders. If you use a blog service, check its policies for removing accounts and collect any necessary information (typically, the blog’s URL and the URL to the login page, along with your username and password).

Selecting the executor of your virtual estate
It’s a good idea to leave the information for each account with someone you trust, such as a close friend or family member. Or, you may wish to have your financial professional or attorney oversee your accounts. Whomever you choose should be aware of the specific requirements for each site and your wishes.

Of course, deciding what will happen to your online presence is just a small piece of an overall estate plan. If you haven’t yet considered a will and other end-of-life preparations, your financial advisor can help you make a comprehensive plan to ensure that everything is taken care of for your loved ones.

 

© 2011 Commonwealth Financial Network
 

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