Digital Assets: What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?

What happens to your social media accounts should be the furthest thing from your mind when handling your affairs, but it can actually be a point of stress and burden to your surviving loved ones. Scrapbooks and photo albums are a thing of the past.

So what do you do when it comes to preserving the digital photos and documents of the deceased? This blog post will cover the steps you need to take with a few of the major social media companies in order to designate representatives for your social media accounts and to gain access to or to delete the accounts of your loved ones.

Facebook

Close the Account: If you are an immediate family member, you can submit a “Special Request for Deceased Person’s Account.” You will need to submit a copy of the death certificate.

Memorial Page: Facebook also offers an option to memorialize the deceased’s profile. The profile remains intact, but is no longer referenced on Facebook as an active user. To have a user’s account memorialized, take the same steps as above to submit a “Special Request for Deceased Person’s Account.”

Legacy Contacts: Users can select a family member or friend on Facebook as their legacy contact, which gives them access to their profile when they die. To receive access, you must first submit the “Memorialization Request.” Legacy Contact settings can be found under the Security tab of your account settings. If you don’t want to designate a legacy contact, you can choose to have your profile to be permanently deleted after you’ve passed away.

Google+ and Gmail

Account Access: Inactive Account Manager helps users plan their “digital afterlives,” and is the best way for you to let Google know who should have access to your information, and whether you want your account to be deleted. In the event that the deceased did not designate an “Inactive Account Manager,” Google will assist immediate family members and representatives in closing the account and, in rare cases, obtaining data from the account. To submit a request, you must upload:

  • Name and contact information of the deceased
  • A copy of the death certificate
  • A copy of your government-issued ID

Twitter

Deactivation: Twitter does not provide account access, but will accept requests to deactivate the user’s account from an immediate family member or designated representative. To request deactivation, you’re required to submit a Privacy Form request. Twitter will then email you with detailed instructions on documents you will need to provide, including:

  • Username of the deceased
  • A copy of the death certificate
  • A copy of your government-issued ID

PayPal

To close the PayPal account of a relative, PayPal asks the estate executor is required to fax the following information. If approved, PayPal will close the account and issue a check in the account holder’s name for any remaining funds.

  • A cover letter indicating the request
  • A copy of the death certificate
  • A copy of the deceased user’s legal documentation proving that the person making the request is authorized to act on behalf of them and
  • A copy of photo identification of the estate executor.

Conclusion

These are some of the simple steps you can take to plan ahead. There are apps and programs available that can help you manage and sort all of your accounts in the event of death. When drafting an Estate Plan, consider including a plan that covers your digital assets, which can be equally as important as your other assets. For a consultation regarding Wills and Estate Planning, call our office at 301-645-4100 to schedule an appointment.

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Andrews, Bongar, Gormley & Clagett is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Southern Maryland. We have been serving clients here for over 50 years. We have more attorneys and a larger staff than most other local law firms, so we can handle a wider variety of legal matters. Each attorney concentrates his or her practice in a few key areas, so you can be assured of the expertise you need.

 

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