What Happens To Your Social Media Account When You Die?

Domain names, websites, blogs, profiles on social networking sites, and other online content may be of both economic and personal value to you and your beneficiaries. But what happens to them when you die? The answer depends on the service in question, but generally speaking, online accounts are frozen when you pass away. However, you may want these accounts to be shut down for security reasons (ex. to prevent identity theft), for economic reasons (ex. running a website through a business) or for personal reasons.

So what can you do to ensure your online identity, profiles and accounts are wrapped up with the rest of your estate?

First, it is important to insert a clause in your Will giving power to your executor to access and shut down your online accounts. This has been a problem for some in the past. For example, Apple recently sought a court order from a Victoria, B.C. woman to access her deceased husband’s account although she had been using it during his lifetime (see here). A clause in your Will giving power to your executors over your online accounts can be a shortcut in case they need to show to the relevant authorities or companies that they have the authority to take certain actions, such as closing out an account. This is a shorter and less expensive option than seeking a court order, because a probated Will (i.e. a Certificate from a court appointing the executor) may suffice.

Also, you should keep a list of passwords in a secure location, to be accessed by the executor when the time is right, so that the executor can edit the client’s Facebook profile, remove the client from online dating sites, close down PayPal and eBay accounts, and so on. Such actions may also reduce the risk of identity theft and financial fraud. However, you should also have a clause in your Will giving power to your executor over your online affairs, because your Will may be necessary in order for your executor to effect certain changes to your online accounts.

If you need assistance with your estate plan, we would be happy to assist.


DISCLAIMER: The contents of this article are information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact us if you would like legal advice. We strongly recommend that you consult a lawyer before taking any actions that are referred to in this article.