It’s a best practice to have a will that outlines what happens to your possessions after you pass away. But in the 21st century, what happens to your online possessions – your social media accounts, email and personal blog?
You could potentially have years’ worth of photos, status updates, stories and videos archived within the Internet. So who takes control of your accounts when you pass away?
For Facebook, you should select a “legacy contact” who can monitor your account if it’s memorialized. The legacy contact can write a post for your profile (a final message or funeral service details, for example), respond to new friend requests and update your profile photo. The contact can add, change or remove a legacy contact in your Facebook account’s security settings.
Learn more about how to request a memorialized account or choose to have your account permanently deleted after you pass away. A memorialized account is a nice way for friends and family to share memories. The word “remembering” is shown next to the person’s name and the profile won’t show up in areas like “people you may know” or birthday reminders.
On Twitter, family members can fill out an online form requesting to have the account deactivated. Twitter will work with a verified immediate family member or someone authorized to act on behalf of estate of the deceased. Once they complete the request, they have to provide a copy of their ID and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate.
Accounts in Instagram can be removed or memorialized. Family members can report the death of a loved one to Instagram along with a link to an obituary or news article confirming their death. Verified family members can request the account be removed and have to provide a copy of death certificate as well as proof they are the lawful representative of the estate.
On Pinterest, family members can request their loved one’s account be deactivated and it will no longer be accessible. Family members do have to provide proof of death and proof of their relationship to the deceased.
If you’re concerned someone would try to access your account and post as you after you’ve passed away, note that none of these services allows someone else to log in to a person’s account.
But social media isn’t the only aspect of your online life. Everyone has an email account, which in the case of Gmail, might be tied to a YouTube account. And many people have personal websites or blogs.
Consider using a service where you can store all your passwords, such as 1Password, KeePass or LastPass. Store all your passwords in one place and then keep program’s username and password with other important legal documents or in a safe deposit box so only a spouse or trusted family member can gain access. Leave instructions for that person on what to do with your accounts, such as memorializing your Facebook page or deleting your Gmail account.