What Happens to Your Email and Social Media After You Die?

Estate planning has gotten a bit more complicated. Not only do you need a will and durable power of attorney, but today you need to make post-death plans for digital stuff, such as photos, email, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

It makes sense to name someone — your legal executor or someone else you trust — to be your “digital executor” to manage your online accounts and digital property after your death.

The responsibility, as outlined by online estate-planning site Everplans, may include:

  • Archiving personal files, photos, videos and other content you’ve created.
  • Deleting files from your computer or other devices, or erasing devices’ hard drives.
  • Maintaining certain online accounts, which may include paying for services to continue (such as web hosting services).
  • Closing certain online accounts, such as social media accounts, subscription services or any accounts that are paid for (such as Amazon Prime).
  • Transferring any transferable accounts to heirs.
  • Collecting and transferring any money or usable credits to your heirs.
  • Transferring any income-generating items (websites, blogs, affiliate accounts, etc.) to your heirs.
  • Informing any online communities or online friends of your death.

Record your passwords

If you do nothing else, record all passwords so your executor or someone else you designate can manage or close your accounts after your death. Store the list in a mutually agreed and secure place. Don’t put passwords in your will, though, because that becomes a public document.

Passing on your passwords is essential. With many digital assets, privacy policies will prevent your survivors from accessing your accounts without them.

Spell out how you want each of your accounts handled. Do you want them destroyed? Do you want some of the photos, communication, creative material or business correspondence left to a member of the family?

Make plans for email and social media accounts

In general, you need to read the terms and conditions of each site you deal with to find out what can be done with your online presence after you die.

Some sites — such as Google — allow you to designate someone who can access your data in the event that your account goes inactive. According to Google:

Contacts will only receive notification once your account has been inactive for the specified amount of time — they will not receive any notification during setup.

Polices vary, so you need to check company by company. For more information, check out the following:

Paying for help

There’s a lively competition among online services that can help you prepare your estate and manage your digital assets. Depending on the complexity and value of your online assets, it may serve you to pay a fee for the expert help.

For example, Everplans offers a “secure digital archive of everything loved ones will need” if you are incapacitated or die.

Have you had to manage a digital legacy of someone who has died? Do you have any other suggestions for our readers? Share them on our Facebook page.

Kari Huus contributed to this post.

Find the right financial adviser

Finding a financial adviser you can trust doesn't have to be hard. A great place to start is with SmartAsset's free financial adviser matching tool, which connects you with up to three qualified financial advisers in five minutes. Each adviser is vetted by SmartAsset and is legally required to act in your best interests.

If you're ready to be matched with local advisers who will help you reach your financial goals, get started now.

Read Next
16 Products You Absolutely Do Not Need
16 Products You Absolutely Do Not Need

There are plenty of great ways to spend your money, but you can safely leave these products on the store shelf.

Half of All Retirees Say They Fear This
Half of All Retirees Say They Fear This

Chances are good that you share this fear. Here’s a way to overcome it.

19 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store
19 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store

These household necessities are overpriced at the grocery store. Get them cheaper at these places instead.

15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales
15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales

You can save a ton of money — especially if you spot any of these items.

This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row
This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row

This bank pays interest without charging monthly fees, but there’s a downside.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.