Overview

Today many people are connected online. It may be important to determine how social media and other online accounts of the deceased person will be managed. For this you will need to:
  • identify what accounts were held;
  • check if there is information that you would like removed;
  • determine if a profile should be retained to remember the deceased person; and
  • determine if the accounts should be closed.

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23.1 Types of Online Accounts

The most common types of online accounts are:

22.2.1 Social Media

The most common social media providers are:
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google
  • Twitter

You should be able to find out if the deceased person held any of these accounts by searching for their name in google or the individual social media providers.
Make a list of all accounts and their name or aliases (name used online other than their given name).

This Step is mainly concerned with social media accounts as these are more sensitive being publicly available online compared to private email accounts and other online subscriptions.

22.2.2 Email

The most common email account providers are:
  • Outlook
  • Hotmail
  • Gmail
  • MSN
  • Yahoo

You should be able to find out if the deceased person held any of these by checking with the Next of Kin. Make a list of all email addresses.

22.2.3 Online Subscriptions

The most common online subscriptions are:

  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Foxtel
  • Amazon Prime
  • Apple TV
  • Online newspaper and magazine subscriptions

If you have worked through Step 22 – Cancel Contracts, Subscriptions, Policies and Club Association Memberships you should have already identified most of these and cancelled them as you would have had to pay for the ongoing subscription fee.
If you didn’t identify an account, you should immediately cancel any services the deceased estate is still paying for.

23.2 Discuss Accounts with Next of Kin

Once you have established what types of online accounts the deceased person held, you should meet with the Next of Kin to discuss if these should be kept online or closed permanently.

Email and other online subscription accounts can be closed by contacting the individual providers to close the account permanently as per their policies. Remember that you may still need the option to obtain information from an email account or similar to finalise the estate administration. You should be certain about no longer needing access before you request closing the accounts.

For social media accounts, you may agree that you keep the Facebook page online as a memory of the deceased person if they had many photos of their family and friends online. Facebook and other social media providers allow you to select if you want to permanently close and delete an account or memorialise it, meaning keeping it active as a memory.

23.3 Benefits of Closing Accounts

Especially during the first months after the death, it may be emotionally difficult for friends and family members when the deceased person’s profile appears up in the family members’ or friends’ lists of contacts or appear as a friend suggestion for others.

There may be personal information that you think should be specifically removed or that warrants the entire account to be closed or deleted.

Note: An idle account may also become a target for hackers to obtain information about the deceased person and their family and friends, or to take control of the account with bad intentions.

23.4 Close Deceased Person’s Accounts

When closing accounts, you will generally need to provide a scan image of:
  • the Death Certificate; and either
  • the Will stating your name as an Executor; or
  • Letters of Administration stating your name as the Administrator.

If you don’t have a Will or Letters of Administration stating you as the Executor or Administrator, you should provide a Birth Certificate to show your direct relationship to the deceased person. You may also be asked to provide your proof of identity such as a driver’s license.

To close an account, you can follow these instructions:

Facebook

After logging into your Facebook account, you can:
> click on the ‘question mark’ at the top right > type “deceased user delete” > click on the first option > select ‘remove account’.

Instagram

Complete the Instagram Deceased Person Account Closure Form and attach the scan images of the necessary documents.

Google

Complete the Google Deceased Person Account Closure Form and attach the scan images of the necessary documents.

Twitter

Complete the Twitter Deceased Person Account Closure Form after selecting the request to deactivate a deceased or incapacitated person’s account.

Twitter will then contact you about the supporting information needed by them to close the account.

23.5 Keep Deceased Person’s Accounts Open

Some social media and online providers will memorialise an account of a deceased person. This means that the account will still be available online but is locked from anyone logging in and making any changes.

When memorialising accounts, you will generally need to provide a scan image of:

  • the Death Certificate;
and either:
  • the Will stating your name as an Executor; or
  • Letters of Administration stating your name as the Administrator.

If you don’t have a Will or Letters of Administration stating you as the Executor or Administrator, you should provide a Birth Certificate to show your direct relationship to the deceased person. You may also be asked to provide your proof of identity such as a driver’s license.

To keep an account open, you can follow these instructions:

Facebook

After logging into your Facebook account, you can:
> click on the ‘question mark’ at the top right > type “deceased user delete” > click on the first option > select ‘contact us’.

Instagram

Complete the Instagram Deceased Person Account Memorialisation Form and attach the scan images of the necessary documents.

Google

Google accounts can only be closed and not memorialised. Follow the steps as outlined above in Step 23.4 to close a Google account.

Twitter

Twitter accounts can only be closed and not memorialised. Follow the steps as outlined above in Step 23.4 to close a Twitter account.


Complete Step

Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself

If you have decided to tackle this Step yourself after reading and understanding the above, you may want to:

  1. Identify what email and social media accounts were held
    (see Step 23.1 above);
  2. Decide if email accounts should be permanently closed if you are confident that there was no critical email correspondence that will be needed to administer and finalise the estate
    (see Step 23.2 above);
  3. Decide with the family if a profile should be retained to remember the deceased person or permanently closed
    (see Step 23.4 above); and
  4. Close or memorialise accounts and notify the relevant provider
    (see Step 23.4 and Step 23.5 above).

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Information

Forms

Legislation

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Cost & Effort

Reading: 15 mins
Preparing: 1 hr
Completing: 1-2 hrs
Total: 2:15-3:15 hrs
Cost: $0

Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.

Instructions

To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.

Glossary

To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.

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Forms

Close Accounts

Facebook
Follow instructions outlined in Step 23.4
Instagram
Complete the Online Form
Google
Complete the Online Form
Twitter
Complete the Online Form

Memorialise Accounts

Instagram
Complete the Online Form

Refer to Step 23.4 and Step 23.5 above for more detail about these forms.
Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.

Checklists & Tools

Use Australia’s most used Estate Administration Checklists & Tools to get organised and save time.
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Legislation & Rules

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N/A

Other legislation and rules not listed here may apply to your specific circumstances.


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