There are many questions after the death of a loved one, and a new issue over the past several years is how to manage the social media accounts of the deceased. The average American internet user has more than 5 social media accounts, leaving us asking who is responsible for managing or closing these accounts after death?
There is no simple, straightforward answer, but in most cases, the executor of the estate is responsible for handling the decedent’s online or digital assets. These accounts are generally considered assets and are treated like any other, putting their management in the hands of the executor. You should research your specific state to understand the laws and guidelines for where you live. Another great resource is your funeral coordinator or attorney.
Each social media network has its own guidelines. Here are the basic guidelines for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, along with links to their respective help pages.
Facebook offers you the option to memorialize or delete your loved one’s account. A memorialized account is kept open for friends and family members to leave comments and remember the deceased. The word “Remembering” is shown next to the person’s name on their profile, and the account is secure because no one can log into it.
If you prefer to remove the account, Facebook does require documentation to prove that you are an immediate family member or the executor of the estate. The fastest way for Facebook to process the request is by providing the death certificate, but there are a number of other documents the company will accept. You will need to prove your relationship to the deceased, as well as prove their passing.
Twitter does not offer the option of memorializing the deceased’s account, but you can have it removed. Like Facebook, you have to prove that you have authority to remove the account, and also that the person has passed away. The company provides a form that you complete, and then contact you with more instructions and how to submit the required documentation. You will need to give them your ID, and typically a copy of the death certificate.
LinkedIn also has their own form to complete for the account of someone who has died. They require several pieces of information, most of which are simple to provide such as the person’s name and your relationship to them. They also like to know the deceased’s email address and the company at which they were most recently employed.
YouTube accounts are handled a bit differently, because they are under the umbrella of Google accounts, and may have funds tied to them. There is a simple form to complete, and Google will review the information. Similar to the other companies mentioned above, you will need to provide proof of your relationship to the deceased and their death certificate.
Many companies provide the option of assigning account management to someone else before death. Facebook allows you to designate a legacy contact, and YouTube has an inactive account manager program. If possible, setting these up before death can make removing or memorializing social media accounts simpler for loved ones.
Utilize your resources, contact a funeral home coordinator as they can help in planning and documenting of all your social media networks and other necessary documents. Funeral coordinators are also known as Funeral Directors and Funeral Arrangers. Contact an AccuCare Funeral Coordinators for additional information on social media networks policies and any other questions you may have.