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  • Soubir Bose

Have you planned the succession of your digital ‘assets’?



As he excitedly opened his email on the browser of his new laptop, it suddenly struck Shounak that he couldn’t recall the password. All he had to do was click on “Forgot Password” and set a new one. Up next, as he tried to open his Twitter page, Shounak faced the same hurdle. That’s when he realised, with so many social media accounts, email IDs, and passwords, he had too many digital assets, just like most of us. But have you ever thought about what happens to these email IDs or social media accounts if something unfortunate happens to you? Who inherits them, or are they dissolved forever? What if they have important information saved?

The Indian judicial system is yet to come up with a law for social media inheritance. In fact, there is no specific ruling as to what happens to digital assets like personal photos, important information, or similar things once the account holder is no more. In 2018, a landmark ruling in Germany gave a woman access to her deceased daughter’s Facebook account. The social media platform had initially refused to allow the mother this access, citing data protection laws. However, they had to comply with the court’s ruling.

Despite the lack of a law, social media giants have come up with their respective versions of what happens to the account of a deceased person. For example, Facebook has a feature that ‘memorializes’ the account of someone who is no more if notified about the same with valid proof. The platform also allows you to add a legacy contact who can access your account in unforeseen situations. Similarly, Instagram too can memorialize an account and the term ‘Remembering’ appears next to the person's name. The photos and videos in both cases — Facebook and Instagram — remain visible to people they had been shared with. In the case of Twitter, the only option is that the deceased person’s account gets deleted if they are informed of their death by family or friends with valid proof.

For most people in current times, the maximum amount of information is stored on Google. All of this data can be secured if you plan ahead. An account that has not been used for a long time is considered inactive, but you can decide on how long Google should wait to consider the account inactive. You can even choose someone you trust to be notified in case your account becomes inactive or on a planned trigger like ‘death’. All you need to do is share the email ID of this person and choose the data you want to be shared. On the other hand, if you don’t want anyone to have access to your account in your absence, you can simply choose to get it deleted.

With no specific law to legally determine the fate of social media accounts in case of the death of a person, it totally depends on the account holder as to what they wish to do with their social media account on their demise. So if you are in the process of planning your succession, why not spare some thoughts on the future of your social accounts too? If you intend to pass on your information to someone or allow them to get access to your account, you can start with saving these details in a portfolio along with all other estate plans you have made. EasyPORTFOLIO is a service that allows you to consolidate and plan not just your physical assets but also your digital assets. Take a look to know more on how you can secure yourself today!

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