Nowadays, everyone has a multitude of online accounts such as Gmail, Facebook and Twitter. But, have you ever wondered what would happen to your email virtual heritage (Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.), social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), clouds or cloud (Dropbox, Icloud, etc.? ) and other digital accounts upon your death?
First of all, it is important to know that the majority of the suppliers, be it Yahoo, Outlook, Dropbox, or others, have a death policy. Unfortunately, despite the adoption of these policies, there is no consistent practice on the fate of your virtual heritage after your death. Each supplier has its own rules and procedures and we could almost compare the current situation in the Wild West.
The only aspect that seems to be unanimous is that none of these providers will accept to give you the password of the deceased user. In addition, in the majority of cases, the account will be closed, without access to its content (e-mails, photos, etc.). Thus, Yahoo, iCloud and Twitter refuse to deliver the contents of the account, but allow its closure following the request of a person authorized to act in the context of the estate or a family member.
On the other hand, the majority of these suppliers are American companies that are unaware of our laws and who, in many cases, believe that liquidator rhymes with hitman. Kidding aside, it could be very difficult for a liquidator to deal with these suppliers in these circumstances.
For example, Dropbox requires you to have access to the deceased person’s file if you have a “valid legal decision that the deceased gave you a power of attorney over the files in his account after his death.” Obviously, it would be advisable to inform Dropbox that in Quebec a power of attorney no longer has effect after the death and that no legal decision is necessary when the will adequately provides for these questions.
Outlook has also adopted its own policy, the “Procedure for Close Relatives” that allows delivery of the content to the next of kin and / or closing of the account. However, although Outlook recognizes the status of an executor, as he calls it, it seems that their procedure is based more on French laws than on Quebec laws. You will have to explain to Outlook that in Quebec, proof of death, birth and marriage, are not issued by the City Council, but rather by the Registrar of Civil Status. Others have decided to follow suit and allow you to predict what will happen to your account when you die.
For example, Facebook allows you to choose between deleting your account or creating a commemoration page. Google has created the “Inactive Account Manager” allowing users to share some of their account data or to notify a contact if their account is inactive for a period of time.
In summary, although the majority of these providers have adopted procedures in the event of death, several difficulties may arise. Thus, to facilitate the administration and transmission of your virtual heritage, it would be desirable to insert a clause in your will dealing with this aspect. For example, you could grant the power to your liquidator to access the contents of your accounts or at least authorize them to close them. It would also be prudent to inventory in writing, for example in a patrimonial balance sheet, your accounts and usernames. However, we do not recommend that you enter your passwords to protect the confidentiality of this information. Finally, if you have, like many others, abandoned invoices and paper statements in favour of e-mails, consider completing a property balance sheet and updating it regularly so that your liquidator can navigate it.
Feel free to talk to your notary about these issues. He can help you plan the transmission of your virtual heritage.