Social media accounts, including services such as Facebook, Instagram, Tick Tock and any other social media platform you can think of, are a type of digital asset. The rules which govern what happens to your account after your death vary by provider. The first thing you should do to ascertain what will happen to your social media accounts on your death is to check the terms and conditions of the relevant platform.
I decided to have a look at this myself recently. I have had a Facebook account since I was at university. That’s some 15 years of pictures and memories all held on the social media site that, unless something is done, will remain live until such time as it is deactivated by Facebook for lack of use.
After looking into Facebook’s terms of business, I was surprised to find out that you cannot transfer any of your rights to use the site to anyone else without Facebook’s consent. This means that even if I appoint executors in my Will, neither they, nor friends or family should access my page once I die, without consent from Facebook. If anyone does access an account which they are not authorised to do so, they may be breaking the law under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
Who do you want give access to your social media accounts?
It is particularly important to consider who you would want accessing accounts such as this, which include messaging facilities, as there may be private information shared with others within the site and you should think about whether you want others accessing that.
Practitioners should ensure that they raise these points with their clients when taking Will instructions to ensure that their clients know to make investigations in relation to their various accounts to ensure their wishes can be actioned upon their death.
This article has been co-written by Laura Richards and Ben Coulson.