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Facebook offers users a new estate planning tool

Many Tennessee residents use Facebook to connect with friends and family, to share the details of their lives and keep up with the events that are important to loved ones. It is also common for users to upload large volumes of photos, videos and written content to the social media site. In accordance with the site's policies, when a Facebook user dies, his or her surviving family members are locked out of those resources. This has caused a great deal of controversy, and some families have bristled at effectively being denied any ability to access the account of a loved one after a death has taken place. As a result, Facebook has added an estate planning feature of which users can take advantage.

Facebook users can now designate a "legacy contact" for their account. In the event of a user's death, the designated party will be given access to the account, and can make changes as they see fit. Alternatively, the account can be changed to an "in memoriam" status, or can even be deleted altogether.

In the best case scenario, an account holder will choose a person to perform this function, and will then have a discussion with that person about what actions should be taken in regard to the account. It might be helpful to leave those wishes in writing, which can simplify matters for loved ones when the time comes. By making use of this feature, users can give loved ones a means of accessing these valued digital assets, while also ensuring that their memory is honored in the appropriate manner.

For many Tennessee families, digital assets are an important aspect of estate planning. By designating an individual to handle one's Facebook account after the user's death, it is possible to ensure that uploaded photos, videos and written material can be accessed by loved ones. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, preserving and providing access to digital assets will become a more central process within estate planning.

Source: vice.com, "Where Does Your Facebook Profile Go When You Die?", Simon Davis, July 21, 2015

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