When a loved one dies, the next step after the funeral service is to handle various legal matters such as insurance and administration of assets. But what happens to their social media accounts? For some people, it can be a jarring experience to come across the account of a deceased loved one that will stop you mid-scroll. Seeing ghostly reminders of them when you’re mourning their loss can be quite upsetting.

You might think that accounts in social media platforms would be automatically closed after a period of inactivity, but this may not always be the case. It would be helpful for you to know what are your options available when it comes to handling the social media accounts of someone who has passed away.

Deletion of social media accounts

You may wish to discuss this option with other family members before making a final decision. Deleting an account entails permanent removal of all information and photos that have been posted. In Facebook, documentation is required to confirm that you are an immediate family member or an executor of the account holder’s estate. You can submit the deceased’s death certificate or obituary, and show proof of authority which includes the last will, power of attorney document and letter from the estate.

Similarly, for Twitter and Instagram, you will need to submit a form to request for a removal of their account. The proof typically includes the deceased person’s birth and death certificate, and a copy of your ID.

Memorialise the accounts 

Most popular social media platforms allow you to memorialise the accounts of the deceased. Some bereaved families may wish to look back through the deceased’s photos and postings.

For Facebook, if the deceased did not opt for their account to be permanently deleted after their passing, it can be turned into a memorialised account. You can also add an announcement on their page, like the memorial service date, and let friends and family members connect with one another and share individual memories of the deceased digitally on the memorialised timeline. On that note, you can also appoint someone to be your legacy contact so your account can be managed once it is memorialised.

Instagram account can also be memorialised upon the approval of a valid request. The posts will remain visible to the audience according to the initial privacy settings, and the memorialised account cannot be changed in any way. In memoralised accounts, the word “Remembering” will be displayed next to their name on the profile.

Planning ahead

Meanwhile, you can also let your loved ones know what you wish to do for your social media accounts. This can be a useful aspect of your funeral planning. Leave detailed instructions in writing – do you want everything to be deleted or your pages to live on? Specify who you wish to manage the process, so it can help them to carry out your final wishes.