Estate Planning for Your Social Media Presence

When you don’t plan ahead for what happens to your social media presence in the event of your death, that information is there for the taking. When your social media information is there for the taking, it can sometimes wind up in the hands of two guys named Jake. When two guys named Jake learn their rent-controlled apartment is being torn down to make way for a 99-story office building, they pay a visit to Donald Trump. When two guys whose rent-controlled apartment is being torn down to make way for a 99-story office building visit Donald Trump, they sell him the secret formula for hair growth you learned from the private messages with an inventor in Serbia that you never got around to deleting before you died. Don’t let Donald Trump discover the secret formula for hair growth. Plan ahead for taking care of your social media presence before you die

Are you prepared for what happens to all the information that would be left behind on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Learni.st, Fark, Instapaper, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Kaboodle, SodaHead and–well, you get the idea–if you were washed out to sea as a result of tsunami hitting the Hawaiian beach you were vacationing on, stepped onto the next mystery plane or became the next victim of GM’s homicidal negligence today? The point being that you never know when the Groundhog Day that is the universe’s never-ending April Fool’s Day is going prank you. Prank you good. You could wake up tomorrow in the greatest shape of your life only to step outside and take a meteorite straight to the temple.

Now you’re dead and all those embarrassing photos on Facebook are part of your legacy. Not to mention all those private messages to that special someone who just so happens to not be your spouse that you always intended to get around to deleting, but just never found the time. Or maybe you’ve got a secret life going on within the world of social media so you explore facets of your personality you can’t allow your boss or family or friends to find out. If that social media secret identity can be traced back to a e-mail account that the wonderful world of snoop technology can trace back to your real identity…well, it may not affect you anymore, but your legacy could take a real beating.

Or let’s go in the opposite direction. What if you use social media to help produce income? Let’s say people come to your Facebook page after you’ve died, see that you published some article on sites with a pay-per-view model so that every month an amount is paid to your PayPal account that ranges from enough to pay for a nice dinner to almost all your monthly earnings. Any social media account that is any way generating income can become a very positive part of your legacy. A way to help fund your newborn child’s college expenses, for instance. But what if you aren’t around to ensure that the income-generation social media site doesn’t get deactivated due to lack of activity and you never bothered to share your password with anybody?

As you can see, estate planning that doesn’t take into account your social media assets or liabilities can result in potentially devastating effects upon those you leave behind. As you might suspect, the growth of social media and ever-increasing demands put upon us to create a digital presence has led to a cottage market for companies that specialize in tidying up the technology of social media for you. Or if you are just a casual user of social media’s biggies, you could find out how they deal with death and make preparations yourself. Or you could appoint a special digital executor in your will.

Or you could do nothing and hope for the best. Just like Edmund Gwenn did before he looked down from heaven and saw clips of beloved performance of Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street” being used for the ultimate abomination: being forced to interact with Donald Trump in a TV commercial.

Do you really want to run the risk of someday having your social media presence associated with Donald Trump?