Death in the digital age

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, and knowing how to quickly deactivate their online accounts can save you from a lot of unnecessary pain.

It’s also important to plan ahead for your own death, to ensure a stress-free process for your loved ones. One way to do this is to include your digital passwords in your will. After you pass away, this makes deactivation of online accounts easier for whoever is responsible.

An alternative way to handle this area is to use a website such as SecureSafe.

SecureSafe has a feature called Data Inheritance that allows you to upload all of your important or sensitive digital files, as well as all your online login details; it will then transfer them to a nominated beneficiary, should you pass away.

This will make it easy for beneficiaries to access your data, close accounts, and ensure that no money or digital points, such as frequent flyer miles, go to waste.


Digital death and deactivation

Should you find yourself handling the deactivation of online accounts without access to passwords and account information, you should try to get a copy of the death certificate and some sort of proof that you are an immediate family member. Some websites will accept the death certificate as proof while others may ask for more, such as a birth or marriage certificate, or a government-issued ID card. 

Hackers and scammers can and will pretend that someone has died to take advantage. Unfortunately, this means that websites will need lots of proof before they deactivate accounts. Having access to these documents will make your hard task much less painful.


Click NEXT to read about how to deactivate online social networking and email accounts. 

Social network accounts 


Facebook gives you two options for handling the user account of a deceased person. You may choose to ‘Memorialise’ the account, which will keep the account active in a limited status and only allow friends to view it and post memories or condolences. The other option is to delete the account entirely. 

A forthcoming feature of the website will allow users to select a ‘legacy contact’ who will receive control of an account when its owner passes on. This update will ease the process significantly and give the legacy contact more control over the deceased’s page. 

You can find the online forms for memorialising an account here, and deactivating an account here.


Deactivating a Twitter account requires that you send documentation by mail, and you will need to include the username of the account, a copy of the death certificate, photo ID and a signed statement. 


Email accounts 


The ‘Inactive Account Manager’ is a service that Google offers to allow users to manage their own Google accounts if they pass away. After enabling the service, if your account is inactive for longer than the time period you set (3 – 12 months), your account will either be deleted or the login data will be sent to a nominated person or persons. 

You can find the form for closing a Google account without Inactive Account Manager activated here. You will need a copy of the birth certificate and a scan of your government-issued ID, among other information. 

Outlook, Hotmail, MSN, Live and WindowsLive

By sending a letter or email to Microsoft you will be able to gain access to all of the information in a deceased family member’s email account, including all emails and contacts. Unfortunately, you will need to produce quite a lot of information.

To find out more visit


Visit for more help and how to deal with digital death and its complicated woes.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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