“If I Die”, a new app for Facebook, has generated a great deal of media attention lately.

For those of you who have not yet heard of it, “If I Die” allows people who download the app to create their own video or text message that is stored on a secured server until he or she passes away, at which time “If I Die” posts the video or text message to his or her Facebook page. To prevent premature posting to the user’s Facebook profile, “If I Die” requires users to appoint three “trustees” who will be responsible for verifying the user’s death.

By offering people a unique opportunity to send a meaningful final message to the people they leave behind, “If I Die” allows users to put a modern spin on the practice of creating an ethical will, which practice dates back to the biblical era. Throughout history, people have created “ethical wills” for various purposes, such as to pass on stories or messages of love and wisdom, to share life’s lessons, or to express one’s hopes and desires for future generations. People sometimes prepare an ethical will in conjunction with their Last Will and Testament (a legal document that disposes of a person’s assets) to explain, for example, the significance of certain items of tangible personal property passing to certain individuals (such as family heirlooms), or to provide an explanation as to why they chose to distribute assets in a certain manner under the provisions of their Last Will and Testament.

For those readers who like the idea of passing on a meaningful message to loved ones, but have concerns about posting their final farewell on Facebook for their entire virtual network to see, consider creating an ethical will instead.

To learn more about or download the “If I die” app, visit this website: http://ifidie.net.

For more information on what planning you should do regarding your digital assets, see our previous post, Estate Planning for Digital Assets