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ABC-7 Special Report: Managing your digital afterlife

two things certain in life: death and taxes. uncle sam will collect but in the digital world, you live forever. tonight, i’ll show you the challenges you could face managing your “digital afterlife” it’s a story you’ll see only on abc-7. john huennecke battled crohn’s disease for more than a decade. last year he was in and out of the hospital. the el paso times editor was laid off but he remained connected through social media. anneliese 11:27 he was a hip dad, he wanted to be a part of everything.sometimes it was embarassing, he had a twitter, snapchat, a facebook and instagram what ever, he had it. his wife of 15 years, suggested they transition their regular facebook pages into a legacy account, which allows a designated heir to take over your page following your death. 3:04 it was a new fad that had just happened and i said, you know, i want to take advantage of this and you’ll have the right and he said no, i’m not going to do it, because we’re going to live a long, long time, so i’m going to do it later. john died suddenly in february from a blood clot in his lung. he was 60. :33 “we neve said goodbye, i didn’t know what he wanted for his funeral..we never had that talk, it’s important that couples have it.” john and becky didn’t talk about death, but they talked about other important things like money matters. they knew each other’s pin numbers and shared their passwords. 7:37 we had no secrets now, becky is using john’s account to keep his memory alive. 3:57 i like that little part on facebook that says remember this day… because i get to see how he wrote it helps me refresh my memories and memories are what keeps you going because to me love never dies, not really, and if you’re on social media, you don’t die either. according to facebook and whatsapp more than a billion people make phone calls, trade messages, send pictures, and swap videos. so how does your digital life end? the answer is complicated and your family could end up here in probate court. becky and john didn’t have any secrets but many couples do. some believe they can take their secrets to the grave. el paso’s two probate judges say “not so fast.” patricia ch once you pass away, assuming nobody has your password and assumes your account it will stay out there forever. …and an attorney could find that account and use it to mine for information. eduardo gamboa 1:21 with that letter of administration you can get into anything that the deceased individual could get into so you can hire somebody to go in and look for the passwords to extract or erase information. pictures and comments can say a lot about you even after you’re six feet under. patricia chew we have in our cases have seen them being used in heirship determination where we are trying to prove if someone is someone else’s common spouse. …and it can be used to execute a last will and testament. patricia chew with things like facebook, once its out there, its out there. dead or alive, facebook’s security settings are clear: you can deactivate your facebook account and friends and pictures will be saved. you can delete your account, but you will never have access to it again. it may take up to three months for facebook to delete information stored in the backup systems. or you can designate an administrator in the legacy contact to memorialize your account. if you die suddenly, an immediate family member or executor will need to provide a death certificate to delete or memorialize the account. the same rules apply for instagram. you may want to use tools like instaport to save all the photos. twitter allows your executor to deactivate your account but you won’t have access and it keeps all the information. linkedin, outlook, gmail, dropbox and icloud have similar policies. becky says her husband john didn’t like to talk about dying but since becky had john’s passwords she inherited his online assets. this summer becky and annaliese will transition john’s facebook page to a memorialized account. becky 8;27 is it his legacy? people tell me that’s his legacy, i don’t think so, i think that’s part of his life. his legacy is his children and the love we had together. both judge chew and judge gamboa suggest you pre- plan with an updated will and register it at the courthouse, also, write down and share your passwords with someone you trust.

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