By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
July 19, 2018
When a Loved One Passes Away: How to Handle Their Google and Facebook
Email. Google. Facebook. More and more of our lives are happening online. Digital assets can include general information, photos and other media, personal posts, financial accounts, books and more.
So, what exactly are you supposed to do about this type of information when your loved one dies? How do you access it? Let’s look at Google and Facebook individually, because each of them has specific policies in place.
Google’s Inactive Account Manager
Google has a useful tool called Inactive Account Manager designed to make accessing a loved one’s digital accounts easier. How does it work?
Basically, they tell Google what to do if their accounts become inactive for a specified matter of time. People can choose from as short as three months to as long as 18 months of inactivity. If their accounts are inactive for the designated time, one of two things can happen depending on what they choose:
- Google will delete all of their data.
- Notification (and account access) will be sent to up to 10 people they pick.
It’s also important to note that, before doing either of these things, Google will send the user both a text and email warning so that they can change their settings or reactivate accounts.
Facebook’s Legacy Contact
When Facebook learns of someone’s passing, they have a process to Memorialize that person’s account. Essentially, the account becomes private, friends and family members can post memories and thoughts, and the word “Remembering” appears next to the person’s profile picture.
No one can make any changes to the account unless they have been designated as a Legacy Contact. Anyone 18 or older can designate someone as their Legacy Contact, but it must be done by the account holder before the account becomes Memorialized.
Legacy Contacts basically get control of the account, but they cannot log in, read your messages, make changes to content that’s already up there (including removing or deleting posts or unfriending people), or add a second Legacy Contact.
What can this person do?
- Ask that the account be removed
- Download a copy of what their loved one shared
- Update the cover photo and profile picture
- Answer new friend requests
- Create a pinned post for your profile
The Legacy Contact essentially serves as the “Trustee” of the account, keeping it running and updated as they see fit – within the limited scope of options that they have available to them.
Dealing with Other Digital Assets
This, of course, only covers a tiny portion of the online lives and assets that some people today have. As time passes, more sites will likely come up with their own ways of dealing with account holders’ digital “afterlives,” but for now this is something that’s still in its infancy.
If you are still in the planning stages with loved ones, the best thing to do is to make sure that any information you need to access accounts is written down in a secure but accessible place. This is step one to being able to take care of their digital information and assets.
Trying to make sense of a loved one’s digital assets after their passing. Get in touch with our office – we can help.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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