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Social media and estate planning

Ohio residents may not take their Twitter or other social media accounts seriously. However, it may be a good idea to account for them in an estate plan. If an account is not properly shut down, it could cause unnecessary grief and pain as it continues to exist as a ghost account. For friends and loved ones, it may be embarrassing and awkward to see a deceased person appear as a suggested social media friend or contact.

Companies such as Facebook and Twitter allow individuals to have accounts deleted or memorialized. This generally requires proof that a person has passed on such as an obituary or death certificate. It may also require a person to prove that he or she is the decedent's legal representative. Prior to an account being deactivated, it may be a good idea to review each platform's terms of service.

In some cases, accessing a deceased person's account without permission could be a violation of federal law. It may also be a good idea to refrain from posting details about a person's death online. Ideally, family and friends will learn about the passing through more personal means. When it is time to tell others about the passing, the post should be concise and contain only relevant details about the funeral and other events that may be planned.

Modern estate planning may require that an individual consider what happens to digital personal property after an individual passes. In some cases, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney prior to taking any action that isn't expressly spelled out in a will or trust. This may help to ensure that the wishes of the deceased person are met in a way that adheres to applicable law.

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