Social media is a huge aspect of our day to day lives. From Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, WhatsApp – the list goes on and on. Whilst making a social media account can all be done with the click of a button (and more often than not without spending a cent), the cost of dealing with social media on death could cost your estate a large amount if you haven’t put a plan into place about what happens to your social media accounts on your death. There have been may recent litigation cases trying to untangle the complex issues about ownership of social media accounts and the content of the account on death.

In the age of social media, everyone’s digital life remains available after their deaths. However, what each social media platform does with accounts when its users pass away varies – and also depends on the wishes of the immediate family.

For some people, having the option to visit a deceased person’s social media account can offer comfort, while others prefer that the page is deleted for good when a loved one passes away – so some social media platforms offer both options.

We have picked the top three social media platforms and given a run down on what happens to your account on death.

Facebook 

When you sign up to Facebook’s terms and conditions, you accept that your account cannot be transferred or assigned to any other person without the consent of Facebook.

Users can also choose to have their profiles permanently deleted when they die, by choosing the option under settings then security.

In recent changes, Facebook now allows you to nominate a “legacy contact”. This nominated person will be able to post on your Facebook page after your death to announce things such as funeral arrangements. The legacy contact cannot view your private messages, or log in as you, but can access your photos, respond to friend requests and update your profile picture.

You can nominate a legacy contact in the security settings of your Facebook account. You should also reinforce that nomination in your Will by giving express consent to that person to have access to your Facebook account upon death. You can also give your legacy contact or nominated person in your Will authority to download a copy of your Facebook data.

When Facebook has been notified of a death, the deceased account holders Facebook page will transition into ‘memorial mode’. The legacy contact only comes into effect on death. You should also consider what happens to your account on incapacity. This is something that can be considered and recorded in a properly drafted enduring power of attorney.

Instagram 

Much like Facebook (which is now Instagram’s parent company), Instagram’s terms and conditions state that a deceased person’s account cannot be transferred to any other person.  Unlike Facebook however, Instagram does not have the feature to elect a legacy contact in the settings of the app. If you want to ensure that someone is able to access your account in any fashion after your death, you must include a direction to that effect in your Will.

Instagram accounts can also be memorialised (or removed altogether by an immediate family member of the deceased account holder).  To memorialise an account, Instagram requires proof of death “such as a link to an obituary or news article.”

A point to note for accounts with a large following who plan to sell the account in the future – Instagram’s terms and conditions expressly prevent users from buying, selling or transferring any aspect of their account (whilst living or after death).

Twitter

On Twitter, the only option when someone dies is to have the account deactivated.

To deactivate a Twitter account following the death of a loved one, Twitter requires an immediate family member to present a copy of their ID and a death certificate of the deceased.

Email

When it comes to emails, Google users can set up an “Inactive Account Manager” to delete their email account after a period of inactivity. Gmail will, however, allow a friend or relative to apply to obtain the contents of a deceased person’s email.

Yahoo will let relatives and friends delete an account if they have proof of death.

Users also have the option of setting an Inactive Account Manager, which either shares or delete your account after a set period of inactivity.

But Apple work slightly differently in that iCloud and iTunes accounts are “non transferable” — meaning that any rights to information terminate when a user dies.  So, currently, everything you bought on Apple’s iTunes expires upon your death.   And, while we’re not here to judge, if you still have an active MySpace account then it might be time to do some spring cleaning!

To discuss this or any aspect of making your Will or an Enduring Power of Attorney either give our office a call on 053-914004 to arrange an appointment or drop us an email at info@ogormansolicitors.ie