What Happens to your Social Media Accounts When You Die?

People should leave clear instructions about what should happen to their social media, computer games and other online accounts after their death, according to the law society” – The Law Society (UK)

As social media is becoming an increasingly important part of our daily lives, it is becoming increasingly important to include social media in our Will, leaving details of how we want our social media accounts to be dealt with upon our passing, who we leave digital assets to, and details of accounts and passwords.

We share our memories with our friends and family across social media and connect and interact with people online, often on a daily basis. For some people, social media is not just a way of connecting with those close to them, it can also be a career. For these people, often known as ‘Influencers’, their social media platforms can provide a lucrative income and be worth, in some cases, significant sums of money, depending on the number of followers they have.

The UK Law Society states that we should make plans for our digital assets by writing a social media Will, and that by doing this we will help our loved ones at a difficult time.

What should you do if you are an Influencer or if we have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media?

Some people such as ‘Influencers, celebrities, or thought leaders in their field of expertise, can make an income from their social media accounts. People can make a living from the number of followers they have, through activities such as advertising and sponsorship deals with brands and businesses. 

However, should a person with a substantial social media following die, these lucrative accounts and potential ongoing income streams, can be passed onto their beneficiaries, but how is this done?

A Will is the only legally binding way to make sure your wishes are carried out and that your assets are bequeathed in the right way, and to the people you want them to be left to. 

For social media accounts that provide an income, and where there is a substantial number of followers, these are worth protecting. You can do this by leaving access details and your wishes, in regard to beneficiaries in your Will as either a standalone social media Will or as your digital legacy within the more traditional Will. 

How should social media accounts be closed down, should you die?

Billions of people are active on social media worldwide, and over 45 million people are active on social media in the UK alone. Year on year, these numbers are increasing, and people are also opening additional social media accounts as new ones are launched. But, should we die, what should we do with our social media accounts and how should they be handled?

If you die without leaving any instructions for your family and loves ones, they could be left without knowing how you want your social media accounts to be dealt, and without important access details such as login details and passwords. As many people store photos and films online, it could mean that these precious memories end up being lost. 

What happens to Social Media accounts, should you die?

Here are the current options available to your loved ones, across the main social media platforms, should you die. 

Facebook

Facebook allows your own personal page to be managed ‘beyond the grave’, subject to a few decisions having been made. The options available to the Facebook user are, to memorialise or delete the Facebook page.

Instagram

Facebook and Instagram are part of the same company, and as with Facebook, options for the Instagram account are to memorialise or delete the Instagram page.

For both Facebook and Instagram, an immediate family member, or appointed executor, can choose to have the profiles deleted by providing a death certificate of the deceased, and proof that they are the representative of the estate, as appointed by law. 

LinkedIn

With LinkedIn you can memorialise or delete a deceased users account, and to do this you will need:

  • The deceased’s name and date of death
  • The email address that the deceased’s account was registered with on LinkedIn
  • A link to a copy of the death certificate

Twitter

Twitter accounts are non-transferable upon a user’s death. To close down a Twitter account, on behalf of someone who has died, the following details are needed:

  • An identification document for the person who has died
  • A copy of the death certificate

What happens if I do not leave a social media Will, or include my wishes for my digital assets in my Will?

If, like most people, you have not included plans or wishes for your digital assets in your Will, these digital assets, which can include photos, films, and other items of sentimental value, could be lost. 

In addition, digital bank accounts, business assets, valuable social media accounts, cryptocurrency, or a valuable website, could be deleted, or you could find that your beneficiaries are denied access. 

This could mean that your loved ones are left with a lengthy legal battle to access your digital assets, or they are lost completely. If you are in doubt, it is wise to include your digital legacy within your Will, to create a separate Digital Legacy Will, and or create a Social Media Will.

To discuss your digital legacy and you would like this to be incorporated into your Will contact the Hello Estate Planning team on 0161 6765421.