What do you do about the deceased’s Instagram account? Or unread emails sitting in their Gmail? You can’t just leave a deceased’s social media or otherwise online life behind. There are certain steps you must take to close down accounts and otherwise manage their digital legacy. Use these tips to take care of common online accounts after a death.
Start with Google. Thankfully, Google accounts are fairly easy to deal with. If the deceased had any kind or any number of Google accounts, from Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar to Google Photos, Gmail or even YouTube, they had a Google ID. Google has a program called Inactive Account Manager in which someone can preset all data and accounts linked to their Google ID to be wiped after a certain period of inactivity. If the deceased used that program, your work is done. If they didn’t, simply file a request to Google, submit documents proving your relationship to the deceased, and the company will close down the Google ID.
Twitter will work with a verified immediate family member or an executor of an estate to deactivate a deceased’s account. You must submit a request for a deactivation and removal online, upon which you will be sent an email with instructions for providing proper documentation of your relationship to the deceased and the death.
Facebook has set up two different methods to handle a deceased’s account: Deletion and Memorialization. If you wish to delete their Facebook page, you have to submit a request to Facebook, provide documentation proving they are deceased and your relationship to them, and wait the 90-day period. Facebook also offers a Memorialization option, which turns the deceased’s page into an online memorial that keeps the original content and allows others to post memories, comments and photos. Instagram is similar to Facebook in that it allows the bereaved to delete or memorialize an account. Only immediate family members can file a request to delete an Instagram account, and they are required to submit proof of relationship and proof of death, such as a death certificate. Instagram accounts can be memorialized once the company gets a valid request backed up by death documentation and proof of relationship. A memorialized Instagram account can’t be changed at all, and the posts will only be visible to the audience with which they were first shared. In other words, you can’t make a memorialized account public if it was originally private.
Finally, our digital footprints will only get bigger the longer our society spends online. If you want to make things easier on your family and loved ones when you’re gone, start making a list of all your accounts, usernames, and passwords now so they have easy access to your information.