Your digital legacy

Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 @ 5:30 PM

Greg Bantt discusses wills, estates and where online accounts fit into the mix.

We set up estate plans for our money, our homes, our pets, but what about our digital assets? Your photos, social media posts, music and books are part of your legacy and who controls them when you are gone

When someone dies, Facebook's policy is to "memorialize" the account. Friends and family members an still share memories but no one can log in, not even a spouse or a parent. We learned that the only way to get around the policy, is by appointing a "legacy contact." It is the one person you trust to access your account if you die. The problem is that most people have no idea that this feature exists. 

"I have encouraged all of my friends to set up a legacy contact," said Jana Bateman. 

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Jana Bateman

Facebook launched the "legacy" feature one month after Jana Bateman's husband, Gale, died of colon cancer in 2015. By then, she had already been locked out of his account.

"It made me feel very violated. It almost made me feel like he had died all over again, " said Bateman. "That was his and shouldn't it have been mine?" 

State Rep. Bob Cupp of Lima and Jeff Rezabek of Clayton co-sponsored a probate law reform that requires attorneys in Ohio to talk about digital assets with their clients as a preventative measure. 
Governor Kasich just recently signed it into law. 

Dayton attorney Greg Gant people should appoint a legacy contact on Facebook and talk to their attorney about putting someone in charge of their digital assets. 

"Ultimately, somebody needs to be in control, " said Gant. "So it needs to be the spouse, or the mom, or the dad."

The new law goes into effect in April but it's too late to help people like Jana, who may never have a way of recovering her husband's digital assets.

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