Monday AM July 19th, 2010

Facebook accounts detailing your daily life and personal history...pictures stored on Flickr...e-mail accounts with personal and business mail...what happens to your online accounts when you die? Ed Mayberry reports.
What happens to your online accounts after you die?In the past, we had physical heirlooms, photo albums and important papers that were left behind. So many details of daily life are stored online, it's becoming more important for others to be able to access your accounts after your death. In an article for the website Techlicious, Robert Calem suggests preparing a plan — not online — for your significant other and your heirs.

"Certain sites will delete your account for inactivity after a certain period of time. Others may not. My understanding is all of the sites will require some proof that you have, in fact, died — a death certificate, for example, before they will take whatever action is their policy to take. Facebook has an actual process in place that you can report someone is deceased and when they go through that verification process, they will then turn that person's Facebook page into a memorial page."

Calem says some of the things that are most valuable to people are things they put on the Web without even thinking about it. No more shoeboxes full of photos or documents stored away.

"People really need to be aware that the things they leave behind may or may not actually be accessible to their heirs. The popularity of sites like Flickr, like Facebook (and) online bank accounts is making it more of an issue going forward. In fact, one of my sources suggested to me that Facebook alone will have some hundreds of thousands of people die this year. So it is an issue, and one that will have to be thought of in the law, going forward."

Calem is a freelance writer. His article appears on the website Techlicious, and a link is on our website at kuhf.org. Ed Mayberry, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...