In a time when tweeting thoughts, liking pictures and +1-ing blog posts forms part of our day-to-day activities, most people will have built a significant digital presence during their lifetime. As a result, many people, with good reason, wonder what will happen to their social media and email accounts on their death. In fact, the Globe and Mail recently posted an interesting videodiscussing this very topic.

The process for handling social media accounts upon death is different for each social media platform; however, mechanisms exist to have the social media accounts closed and, at times, even memorialized. Here are some examples:

  1. Facebook: a deceased person’s facebook account can be memorialized or the deceased person’s estate trustee (executor) or immediate family member can request that the facebook account be removed.
  2. TwitterTwitter will work with verified immediate family members or someone authorized to act on behalf of the deceased person’s estate to have the deceased person’s account deactiviated. Some of the information required includes the deceased person’s death certificate, a copy of the requestor’s government issued ID and a signed statement from the requestor.
  3. LinkedIn: LinkedIn will remove a deceased member’s account if they receive arequest and will require the deceased member’s name, the company they worked at most recently, the requestor’s relationship to them and a link to the deceased member’s profile.
  4. Google Account: Through its Inactive Account Manager, Google allows you to choose how you want your account handled once it has been inactive for a period of time. Therefore, if you set it to be deleted after three months of inactivity, it will, in theory, be deleted three months after you die. You can also set this Inactive Account Manager to send an email to a trusted contact once you have been inactive for the inactivity period. Google will warn you before the end of the inactivity period (in the event that you are alive and taking a break from using your account).
  5. Pinterest: Pinterest will deactivate a deceased person’s accountif they receive a request from a family member who has verified such relationship using documentation such as a birth or marriage certificate or such deceased’s person obituary which references the family member requesting the deactivation.

Services are also popping up which allow you to take a different approach to how your social media accounts will be treated upon your death.  For example, LIVESON is a service which states “when your heart stops beating you’ll keep tweeting.”  This website allows you to choose someone who will decide whether to keep your account “live” upon your death.

When engaging in estate planning activities, take a moment to consider how you want your social media accounts treated on your death.  Where options are available to you, taking steps prior to death may make the process easier for your grieving loved ones.

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