Do you Need a Social Media Will?

Social media is still a fairly new phenomenon, but it has made its way into most everyone's lives. What happens, though, to all of those online profiles when the owner ceases to live and maintain the page?

That is answered with an even newer idea of a Social Media Will. Essentially, it is the same as a normal will, with a "trustee" who will be in charge of the belongings and other items listed in the will, in this case, all social media forums. This includes blogs, social media pages like Facebook and all email addresses.

Here are some steps from the Illinois state government on how to go about writing a social media will:

  • Before writing anything down, view all of the privacy policies and terms and conditions of every website for which you have an online existence in case there is a clause already about how accounts of the deceased are typically handled.
  • Check each website to see if there is a setting for account management after your death, in which case you would not need a trustee.
  • Once you do start writing, clearly explain how you would like your profiles to be handled after you pass. You may just want them all deleted, some of them deleted, a final memorial-type statement written on them or you may just want them to be untouched.
  • In the social media will, be sure to record all of the websites on which you have an online presence with your usernames and passwords so that your "trustee" can access your profiles.

It is also important for any estate planning to have an attorney to help you through each step as well, even for something as small as social media. If you are looking for someone to help you create a social media will or any other kind of will, contact Stock, Carlson, Flynn, & McGrath attorneys in Illinois today.

DIY Estate Planning: Dangerous Territory

LauraAlthough a recent survey indicates that as many as 1/3 of Americans are using online estate planning tools or generic forms they have purchased, creating your own estate planning documents is tricky. Working with a lawyer is the only way to make sure that you have articulated your desires properly.

Not Doing Enough

One of the dangers in using a standard online approach to estate planning is that you simply won't create the kind of comprehensive plan you'll need if something happens to you. If you have any kind of unique aspect to your situation, like children with special needs, you're unlikely to find that the "one size fits all" approach to estate planning works for you. These online services tend to present the "bare bones" for your needs, which could mean missing out on critical documents or needs that you are not aware of until it's too late.

Doing Too Much

Estate planning documents are generally drafted by lawyers, and the wording and phrases used in those documents must be exact in order for your wishes to be carried out. Small mistakes can completely disrupt your goals for your estate, causing family drama and implementing the opposite of your estate plans due to simple mistakes. When you're working with an attorney, on the other hand, you'll rest assured that your lawyer is going through the documents with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that all your wishes are clearly articulated. While your chances for error are extremely high doing it yourself, attorneys are trained to look for loopholes- and how to close them.

Completing your estate plans on your own might seem like a way to save some time and money- but it can end up costing you or your heirs in spades. You'll either have to pay an attorney to do it right all over again, or your heirs will find out after you've passed away that serious mistakes will alter what they thought was going to happen. Don't let yourself be the victim of poor DIY estate planning- contact an attorney in Illinois today.

Estate Planning: Do You Want To Leave a Digital Fingerprint?

Most everyone is familiar with the benefits of traditional estate planning, from articulating your desires in a living will to generating trusts or wills that explain what happens to your assets after you pass away. As people are increasingly active online, it’s necessary to think about what might happen to your digital assets after you pass away. Everything from the photos on your Facebook account to the contents of your email inbox is worth considering.

Failing to think about what should happen to your digital accounts and data after you pass away can lead to additional emotional trauma for family members in the wake of your death. Companies involved with digital data are increasingly cognizant of the role that stored information can play in family disputes or dissemination of information, which is why Google has created Inactive Account Manager.

With Google’s new tool, which just came out this spring, users can determine what happens to their data on their own terms. Using this program allows individuals to designate what will happen to any information or data connected with Google accounts- including everything from email to videos posted on YouTube.

Users can name other individuals who will be notified about account deactivation, which you can set to occur anywhere from 3-12 months after the company identifies you as “inactive”. Google will reach out one month before they official terminate your accounts, in the event that you’re traveling or otherwise around. Beneficiaries, if you name them, will receive digital links to download any information that you have previously chosen to share. This way, digital memories can be kept alive if you wish, or you can have all of the information deleted.

Other companies also offer what’s known as online safe deposit boxes, where you can store information about account sign-ins and passwords, allowing beneficiaries to get information if they want or need it.

Estate planning now reaches right into your computer screen. If you have questions about developing estate plans, contact our office today for a consultation.


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