Facebook has recently has changed its policy on the process for its account holders when they die.

This prompted me to investigate with a few of the popular platforms, as to what happens to your account when you die, and who can access it or delete it.

Without your personal account information, including log in and password details your next of kin and/or executors cannot simply log in and amend or delete your account details. They may want to post a message to your page for a while about your death.


Previously Facebook has responded to notification that an account holder is deceased by verifying the death and freezing the account so no changes could be made.

Recently Facebook has stated it will now allow account holders to name a ‘legacy contact’ who will be permitted to manage the Facebook page after the user’s demise.

This  Facebook ‘executor’ can respond to new friend requests, update the cover photo and profile, and archive your Facebook posts and photos and will be allowed to make one final post. Private messages will not be accessible to the legacy contact.

“We heard from family members who wanted to post funeral information or download and preserve photos,” said Vanessa Callison-Burch of Facebook in a recent interview. “We realised there was more we could do.”

Facebook’s users can go into a feature under settings to choose a legacy contact to manage the account, opt to have the account deleted permanently after death or do nothing.

Friends or family can report a death through an electronic form at the online Facebook Help Centre. Once Facebook is notified of a death and confirms it, Facebook will add the tagline ‘Remembering’ over the user’s name and notify the legacy contact. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who died or view that person’s private messages.


In the event of the death of a Twitter user, a person authorised to act on the behalf of the estate or a verified immediate family member of the deceased can have an account deactivated.  Twitter is unable to provide account access to anyone regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased.

However, Twitter will remove imagery of deceased individuals in certain circumstances.  Immediate family members may request the removal of images or video of deceased individuals, from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death, by sending a request to Twitter.


For Instagram you can report the account for memorialisation. If you’re an immediate family member of that person, you can request the account be removed from Instagram. Instagram will not provide login information for a memorialised account.

Verified immediate family members may request the removal of an account from Instagram.


Once notified and relevant verifications are undertaken LinkedIn will close the account and remove the profile permanently.

Interestingly there have been some occasions that people have received notification updates or ‘endorsements’ on LinkedIn from people who are deceased . . .


There are many other social media platforms that have similar policies. Generally none allow someone to just take over an account even though they may legally be in charge of the estate. This is the same for other online issues such as email accounts, websites and so on. Unless someone actually has your account ID and password (login in details) then your on-line life may stay alive forever.

There are actual businesses who only deal with online death. You can pay a fee and lodge all of your online personas with them and after your death they will provide all of your details to a person or persons you nominate. Google ‘legacy locker’ or ‘password box’ to read more.

PUBLICATION: ENVOY – The newsletter of The New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives
DATE: ENVOY, February 2017
AUTHOR: Andrew Johnstone, APEARS, Sydney, Australia

Start typing and press Enter to search