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What Happens To Your Social Media Account When You Die?

Updated: Apr 29

When you die, what happens to your online life? Each social media platform has its own rules for dealing with the accounts of deceased users, ranging from permanent deletion to transforming accounts into places for mourning and memory. Understanding these options is essential for managing digital assets responsibly and respecting your wishes. So let’s take a look at the various policies of major social media sites and what you can do to make sure your accounts are handled the way you want. After all, our social media accounts reflect our personalities, interests, and memories, so we want them handled with care.

What Each Platform Allows

Let’s take a look at the practical aspects and discuss what each digital platform allows or requires. Note that these provisions are updated as of April 2024, as this article is being published.

Facebook. Facebook offers two options for accounts of deceased users: either close the account permanently or convert it into a memorial account where loved ones can share memories. The platform allows you to designate a "Legacy Contact" while you’re alive; someone who can manage your memorialized account by updating your profile picture, accepting friend requests, and posting memories. Importantly, they cannot log into the account or view your private message history.

Instagram. Instagram also allows accounts to be either memorialized or permanently deleted. A memorialized Instagram account will display a "Remembering" label and will not appear in public spaces like the “Explore” section. The process requires proof of death, such as a death certificate, so someone will need to provide that after you’re gone.

TikTok. TikTok permits family members or legal representatives to request the deactivation of a deceased user’s account by providing appropriate proof of death. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, and at the time of this writing, TikTok does not currently offer a memorialization option, so your account is permanently removed once the request is processed.

X. X (formerly known as Twitter) allows the family to close the account of a deceased user. This involves submitting proof of death, after which your account and its contents are permanently deleted. X does not provide a memorialization option.

YouTube. YouTube is covered by Google’s overall policies, which offer a proactive feature called the Inactive Account Manager. This allows you to set instructions for your account if you become inactive for a specified period. You can also choose to have your data shared with trusted contacts or have the account deleted.

LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, immediate family members or colleagues can request to remove a deceased member's profile by providing proof of death. LinkedIn focuses on maintaining a professional network and so does not offer account memorialization.

How to close or memorialize an account

It’s important to know that social media platforms generally discourage logging into a deceased person's account as it poses privacy and security risks. To close or memorialize your account, family members must directly contact the service and provide the necessary documentation. They won’t be able to make a phone call, either - they’ll have to find out how to close or memorialize your account on each site separately, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. But there’s a better way! You can create a plan that helps your loved ones navigate the process. To do that, you need a trusted estate planning lawyer.

What an Estate Planning Attorney Can Do

A trusted estate planning attorney plays a crucial role in helping manage your digital legacy, ensuring that your wishes for your online accounts are carried out after your passing. Here’s what a skilled attorney can do to help ensure that your loved ones have the necessary information and authority to manage your accounts:

1. Create a Digital Asset Plan

An estate planning attorney can help you draft a digital asset plan that details your wishes for each of your online accounts. This plan can specify which accounts should be closed and which should be memorialized. It includes all kinds of digital assets, from social media accounts and emails to digital wallets and personal blogs.

Your attorney can also guide you in appointing an executor, a person who will be responsible for managing your online assets according to your wishes. A knowledgeable attorney will explain the responsibilities involved and help ensure that the executor has the legal authority they need to act on your behalf with various digital platforms.

2. Provide Necessary Legal Documentation

A skilled attorney can prepare necessary legal documents that authorize your executor to access your accounts. This might include special powers of attorney and directives that are included in your will, trust, or in a separate document. 

3. Secure Your Account Information

A trusted attorney can suggest secure ways to store your account usernames, passwords, and any other necessary information. This information can be kept in a way that respects privacy and security but becomes accessible to the digital executor or designated individuals after your death. 

4. Update the Plan Over Time

As laws and platform policies change, a trusted estate planning attorney can help update your digital estate plan. This ensures that it remains compliant with new regulations and

continues to reflect your wishes accurately.

However, it’s important to know that most estate planning attorneys treat their clients as a “one and done” transaction. Once your plan is signed, they won’t contact you again to ensure that your plan stays updated over time. And they won’t explain that failure to update your plan regularly means your plan won’t work when you need it to. Instead, work with a Personal Family Lawyer who will keep in touch for your lifetime to ensure your plan works. 

How We Can Help

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we don't merely dispense legal counsel; we safeguard all your assets and guide you to make the right decisions for your unique situation. We take the time to fully understand what’s important to you, and then together, we’ll craft a thoughtful and holistic plan so you and your family can avoid the stress, conflict, and chaos that comes with incomplete planning - including incomplete digital planning.

To learn more about how we approach estate planning from a place of heart and understanding, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

This article is a service of The Law Offices of Casey D. Conklin, PLC, Your Family's Personal Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.


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