Adding Social Media Provisions to a Will? Estate Planning Evolves to Protect Your Online Persona

For many of our clients, a basic estate plan may contain a Will, Revocable Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive, and HIPAA Release Form.  Some of our more complex clients create Limited Liability Companies, Corporations, or various other Trust and Business entities as their estate plan may require.  What all of these have in common is that these clients are planning for their person-in-being.  Whether it’s the appointment of an individual to make financial or medical decisions upon our client’s disability, or simply who they determine shall inherit property, the focus is on the human being, the tangible form of life.

However, the truth is, that majority of individuals have multiple personalities.  In today’s world of Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Blogging, or any other form of “social media”, it is arguable that people have as many personalities as they do online accounts.   Each of these personalities is hidden behind a username and password that perceivably only the creator of that account can access.  Unlike your typical banking pin or password which, at ones death can inherently be accessed by the appointed Personal Representative, recent articles suggest that “social media” passwords may in fact not be accessed so easily.

It has been suggested that in addition to one’s basic Will, a second, “social media” Will should be drafted.  Such a Will, it is said, should be used to designate an individual or individuals that shall be granted access to one’s “social media” accounts to close out those affairs.  This Will would grant an individual the authority to request and obtain the deceased individuals passwords in order to close down their accounts, be it Twitter, Facebook, etc. much like a current Personal Representative would do with a checking account.

Altman & Associates does not currently recommend a second form of Will for “social media.”  We believe such goals can be accomplished through new provisions in our clients' Wills appointing a special administrator for “social media” outlets.  With the continued growth of this industry, our firm will continue to develop provisions that address “social media” concerns based on our clients' needs.  We recommend that all of our clients mull over this new idea and ask yourselves the question, "Who should be in charge of my social media?"

-  Gary Altman, Esq. and Adam Abramowitz, Esq.  

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