If someone close to you has passed away, the last thing you may be thinking about is how to deal with their social media accounts. However, for many, photos, videos and posts on a deceased’s social media accounts can be a source of comfort through the grieving process. Eventually, you will need to consider how best to deal with these social media accounts and other online accounts, sometimes known as the deceased’s ‘digital legacy’. In this article, we look at your options for handling a loved one’s social media accounts after they have passed away.
When a person close to you dies, you generally have three options for how you can deal with their social media accounts:
Each of these options has benefits and drawbacks, but you should firstly check to see whether your loved one left any instructions. It is becoming increasingly popular to discuss digital legacies as part of the estate planning process and, where the deceased left details of their wishes, this can help you to decide what to do.
It is an unfortunate fact that if you leave social media accounts open after someone you love has passed away, they become vulnerable to hacking. It can be very painful to see the accounts of a person you loved used in this way, and you may lose any photos, videos or personal messages on the account forever. As a result, we would recommend either deleting or memorialising social media accounts where possible.
Instead of deleting a social media account, many platforms allow you to keep it active as a memorial account. Memorialising the social media accounts of a loved one can be a nice way to remember them and allow others to remember them too. When you choose to memorialise a social media account, the way the profile works and is presented will change. The profile will make clear that the person is now deceased. For example, Facebook will no longer send birthday notifications for this person. Not all social media accounts will allow you to memorialise a profile, but most of the popular platforms do.
If you choose to delete the social media accounts of your loved one, you will permanently remove all posts, photographs, videos and information stored in the account. Before you delete the account, you may wish to discuss it with their family members and close friends. It is important that those who were close to the person in life get a chance to express their feelings, and that they are generally happy for the person’s online life to be deleted. However, this does not mean all of those memories are lost forever. You can login and download any photos, videos or information you wish before you delete the account.
To delete the social media accounts of a loved one who has passed away, you must follow the steps outlined below.
1. Contact social media sites and let them know the person has passed away. You may need the following information:
2. You will then need to send a copy of the death certificate to the social media site confirming the death.
3. You will then be permitted to login, download and save all the things you wish to keep albeit some sites may require additional documentation or forms to be completed.
This is a general guide and different social media sites may require different evidence or information to allow you to delete the account.
Murray Beith Murray Partner, Andrew Paterson, heads our Executry group and has assisted many families with the legal issues arising following the death of a relative. If you have any questions about the issues covered here, or if you wish to discuss any other legal matter, please complete our contact form or call us on 0131 225 1200.
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