What happens to you online when you die?

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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.

There are also websites that offer services created specifically for this purpose. These websites allow you to upload all of your important or sensitive digital files, as well as all your online login details. These details are then transferred to a nominated beneficiary when 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 points, 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.

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.

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. 

Read more on Twitter.com.

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 (for example, 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 during this process.

How have you prepared for your digital death?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 3
  1. 0

    I believe its probably not an issue in relation to facebook, twitter etc. cos someone who has died will just no longer be posting, viewing etc. Unless there is an important issue here I am unaware of so I stand ready to be corrected. Such as financial, bank accounts etc are another matter altogether; thats where the difficulties are !! Suppose email accounts would also be a painful exercise as well but not as important.

    websites that allow you to upload all of your important or sensitive digital files, as well as all your online login details

    I am uncomfortable with this simply cos where it also said

    Hackers and scammers can and will take advantage

  2. 0

    I would not put passwords into my will as often they are changed before a person dies. By all means give a sealed envelope containing a list of digital passwords to your solicitor and ask if they keep it with your will to be handed to the executor or beneficiary after your death.

  3. 0

    I m told by a solicitor friend, whose practice is involved in winding up estates, that the most difficult and time consuming task which he has, is accessing accounts held electronically by the deceased.
    Any articles you can publish on how to plan ahead , will make everyone’s work simpler when you die. Nowadays it is important that your executor(s) have computer skills or are able to contact your financial planner or employ advisers who have these skills.
    I like the idea of a sealed letter with the details continuously updated and given to your solicitor



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