Texas Tech University

What happens to your Facebook profile after you die?

Consumer Reports

April 22, 2015

Consumer Reports - Life used to be so simple. You lived, you died, and the assets you amassed during your time on earth were passed on to your heirs. Now, however, there is some new unfinished business that needs to be taken care of before you go: your personal digital assets.

The problem is, "after you die, there's no one monitoring all these assets anymore, which makes them vulnerable to theft," says Gerry W. Beyer, a professor at Texas Tech University School of Law and a leading expert on the estate-planning aspects of digital assets.

Complicating matters, secret usernames, passwords, and other login codes used to keep intruders out die with you. That makes it very difficult or even impossible for your survivors to take proper control of your digital assets. State laws granting rightful access to survivors are in their infancy, while user agreements usually bar access by others to protect their customers' privacy.

Here is Beyer's advice for properly protecting your digital afterlife.