Most people understand the importance of having a will, a legal document that stipulates how your assets and possessions should be distributed upon your death. It’s also important to have a companion document known as a letter of instruction, an informal document that is not legally binding but can serve multiple purposes.  A letter of instruction can, among other things, spell out your wishes for funeral arrangements and list the names and phone numbers of your financial planner, accountant, attorney or other financial professionals.

In this age of email, social media and password-protected online accounts, your letter of instruction should now also include instructions for how you want your online identities handled. In “How and Why You Should Write a Social Media Will,” the blog suggests appointing a trusted relative or friend to act as your “online executor” for your email, blogs and social media accounts.

  • Give the social media executor a document that lists all the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel them or keep them up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where other users can still see your profile but can’t post anything new.
  • Stipulate in your will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate, which some websites may require for him/her to take any actions on your behalf.