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Passing On Your Passwords

(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - When you pass on, who gets your passwords?

In response to Facebook’s policy of removing a person’s profile after his death, a father posted an emotional plea to Mark Zuckerberg for access to create a retrospective video for his deceased son which has gotten an overwhelming response. Now, Facebook is in the process of creating a policy for the pages of those who have passed away.

But here’s the legal question: assuming that you have named an executor of your estate, doesn’t that person automatically have access to your social media without having to plead your case to Mark Zuckerberg?

No.

Simply naming a person in charge of your estate in your will actually will not necessarily give that person the right to get control of your email accounts. Control over a deceased person’s electronic footprint will be governed by the terms of use to which the now deceased owner agreed when he set it up.

Gmail makes you provide the name of the person whose account you want, along with email address and death certificate before deciding whether to give it to you; but upon submission of the death certificate to Yahoo, the account will be deleted, not given to anyone else.

In any event, here’s a solution: if you know you want a person to have access, pass along your passwords along with your pots and pans.

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