What happens to my Facebook account when I die?

Many people recognise the importance of deciding what should happen to their bank accounts, house and other valuable assets when they die and they draw up a Will accordingly. However, what happens to our social media accounts if we die? Such accounts are usually governed by the terms that we signed up to when we created the account and may not be governed by the laws of the country in which we live, but rather the country in which the social media company is based. This can mean that our social media accounts do not pass under the terms of our Wills and our executors have no legal authority to deal with our accounts after we have died.

Some people find that keeping available the option to visit a deceased person’s profile can offer comfort, whereas others would prefer the page to be deleted when a loved one passes away. Certainly upsetting situations have occurred in the past where accounts of deceased persons have been hacked, resulting in the appearance of posts seemingly from “beyond the grave”.

Most of the large social media providers have come up with solutions to allow a nominated person to manage your account after you have died.

With Facebook you can create a legacy contact who can:

• Write a pinned post for your profile
• Update your profile and cover photos
• Request the removal of your account
• Download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook

For privacy reasons, the legacy contact can’t:

• Log into your account
• Read your messages
• Remove any of your friends or make new friends requests

Instagram uses a similar system of legacy contacts whereas Twitter currently has a policy allowing an authorised person to have the accounts deactivated.

Rebecca Dixon is a solicitor in the private client department at Barker Gotelee, Suffolk solicitors.

Personal Solicitors Ipswich – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk