What happens to your online accounts when you die

social media

It is amazing how technology has changed our lives for the better. There is absolutely nothing you can’t do nowadays if you have an internet connection and the knowledge of how the online world works. It can not be denied that so many people have turned Online for jobs, relationships, social interactions on ( Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, Pinterest etc), online transactions using Pay Pal, Skrill, Payoneer and online shops like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Ali Express and many others have helped people in one way or other. So many people have opened different accounts online

But have you ever spare a minute of thinking what happens to your online accounts when you die? Probably not. This is because so many people don’t consider online Accounts as real property. Is it wise to secure your privacy and data only while you are living but not after death?

The digital world now keeps the greater portion of our private life in form of a photo, videos, and files, we now store in Applications like Google photo, Dropbox, google drive etc. You may be signed in too many accounts than you can imagine. Would you allow your spouse, family member or friend to have access to your Facebook and email message? What about those Monies in your Online Accounts? Does anyone know your passwords and login in details? If not, what will happen to it after you have passed away?

So what happens to your online accounts when you die today

In this guide, I will walk you through what happens and what you should do right now to prevent afterlife confusions.

When a person dies, families often face a very difficult hurdle of finding out what to do with his or her social profiles. In most cases, the families don’t have the necessary logging in details and passwords and this will worsen the situation. If ignored, these Accounts can sometimes continue to be active after the user’s demise.

This, however, was noted with great concern by major social media networks and some policies were put in place for families that would want to take care of the deceased’s User accounts. Major Social networks collect details of our accounts, and in the event of death, friends and families who may want to take care of the deceased’s profiles have to apply to be granted permission.

Below are the steps put in place by some of the largest social networks which you can take in the event that you want to take care of the deceased’s online Accounts.


When it comes to handling deceased’s User Accounts, Facebook offers some of the best services as compared to its counterparts. With Facebook, you have two options. You can choose to have your account deleted permanently or Memorialized after you have passed away

Deleting the Account permanently-When family members or a friend have decided to close the deceased’s social profiles, they can only do this by applying to Facebook. Facebook only accepts requests for the closure of the account after verifying the relationship of the applicant. After verifying, the applicant is required to fill out an online form asking to permanently close the deceased’s account. Deceased’s death/birth certificate or any other document issued by the local authority that shows that you are lawfully the representative/Executor of the deceased.

All posts, timeline, photo, and videos are permanently removed when this option is used. In fact, everything related to the deceased’s account is totally wiped out and

Memorializing your Facebook Account

There are countless Facebook accounts running online but the Users passed away long back. Birthday notifications, friend requests and everything on their timelines, is still active. This can only be rectified by memorializing the account. By memorializing the account, it will be deactivated/frozen. This can be done while the owner of the account is still alive by choosing a legacy contact (someone who looks after your Facebook account after you pass away)

Setting up a Legacy Contact

Want to set up this feature right now? It’s very easy as ABC;

  • Open Facebook on your device
  • There is a drop down at the top of the Facebook page

facebook legacy settings

  • Scroll down to general settings
  • Go to Manage Account, right at the bottom of that page

  • Now type in the name of your preferred friend or relative as your legal contact

  • Click add
  • Then inform your legal contact of the decision

Take an extra step by also telling your close friends and relatives about the beauty of this feature. Don’t let your Facebook profile be a living ghost after your demise.

> You can either apply for the memorialization of your Facebook profile after your death or your friend, relative or executor can submit a special request to memorialize your Facebook account when you are gone. When you choose a digital executor, there are some things he can do and not do on your profile

What your legacy contact can do on your profile account

Legacy contact is your relative or friend you chose to look after your account after you passed away. Though you chose her/him to look after your account, he is limited to some extent on what to do when on your account. Below is what he can’t do;

  1. Cannot make any alterations or remove your posts what you posted before you are gone
  2. Cannot read your messages or Login into your account
  3. Remove or adding new friends
  4. Change legacy contact.

What Legacy Contact can do

Once your Facebook account has been memorialized, the word “Remembering”, will be written next to the profile picture near the name. If you had chosen a Legacy contact, he can perform few things on the page as listed below. The memorialized account will be a meeting page to remember the life of the deceased. Friends and relatives, can send condolence messages and discuss. The legacy contact can;

  1. Post the last words on your behalf and say something about the memorial service. After the account, the legacy contact will not be able to post. Make sure in settings you allow the legacy contact to post temporally.
  2. Also, depending on your settings, the legal contact can change the profile photo or cover.
  3. Request the removal/deactivation of your account.
  4. Download a copy of your posts.
  5. Respond to friendship requests( from old friends or relatives who were not aware of your passing away)

You must also note that the legal contact can be changed, it’s not fixed. Since the legal contact must be someone you trust most, if you saw the one you had appointed to be not fit or maybe he is no longer available, there is an option to remove and add another one.

Google or Gmail Account

If you are using an Android device, maybe you are using a Gmail as your Email Or you are using one of Google services like Google+, YouTube, Google Maps, Google drive, Google photo, Chrome etc, it’s enough to confirm that you have a Gmail Account. My question to you now is, “have you ever spared a plan of however your Gmail Accounts are going to be once you have got passed on to the great beyond?” In most cases, people tend to give a deaf ear to this despite the importance of information we now store on Google Accounts in this era.

Google Account and Gmail Account, unlike some social accounts, contains some very important information like credit card details, login in details into Pay Pal accounts, Skrill, Payoneer and many more are made with Google Account.

So if you are one of those many people using Google services, you might want to take an extra step in ensuring the security and whatever happens to it when your untimely demise happens. Not implementing these settings will not be a noble idea.

To see the available options for what you can do with your Gmail Accounts, Open Inactive Account Manager on your device Google account. This feature allows you to decide on different settings like the amount of time inactive you would want Google to close your account. You may choose that if you spent a period like 6months without login into your account (6 months of inactive), Google may close your account after sending a message to Trusted Number.

A trusted number is the mobile number of your relative or friend which you chose to get notified when your account is inactive for a specified time period.

To add your trusted number ;

  • Go to your google account, then
  • Personal info and privacy

  • Scroll down, to where its written Assign an Account Trustee and
  • Click on change this setting.

inactive account manager


You will be directed to a page which needs your confirmation for setting up what will happen to your Google Account after you pass away. Click on the start button.

What happens to my Gmail Account when you die.

When selecting Trusted number you can choose to even up to 10 mobile numbers and they can all be notified when the account becomes inactive. They can also download your Gmail data. There is also an option where you can set auto-replies to all your Emails during when your Account is inactive.

Google will automatically delete your account once the specified date is reached

Pay Pal Account

The growing use of online business is unquestionably the most contributor to the growing use of Pay Pal services, and I happen to be one of PayPal fan. I transact every day using my PayPal Account almost every calendar month. I pay for my Online Courses, buy on Amazon, Alibaba and eBay on a regular basis and I also receive payments from my online business.

What about you? You might not be using PayPal the same way I am using but you are certainly using it in another way, or you may have a friend or relative using PayPal Account.

Whether the Account has a $00.00 balance or it has a thousand dollars at the time the owner passed away, it’s very important to take the necessary steps to ensure the Account is officially closed, failure of which may result in the account being hacked buy online thugs. This may result in your account being used to defraud people online in your name.

So how to close a deceased PayPal Account?

PayPal has certain requirements in form of documentation in order to close the account, requirements include;

  • A certified Will which clearly mentions the Executor
  • In the event where there is no will, There must be a statement which must point out the potential executor and his interest in closing the account will be assessed.
  • Death certificates of the deceased.
  • The Administrator must provide his/her details that include Original ID, mobile numbers, and email address

Once all these requirements are met, visit PayPal website and click on Contact us, provide them with details and if all documents are as required, the account will be closed upon approval.

If the account has a positive balance;

  • PayPal can decide whether you can withdraw it through the account’s linked bank account or
  • It can be withdrawn to the administrators PayPal Account.
  • At a cost of $40 or any currency equaling this amount, use a wire transfer to a bank. A bank statement is required for this option.

In a case where there is a balance of at $5000, the executor may be required to fill an indemnity form prior to the release of the balance.

If the account has no any money, the account will be immediately closed upon approval.


As I earlier said, unlike Facebook, Twitter has not done much in terms of what happens a person’s account, given that he is gone. However, Twitter provides that it will work with an approved or authorized member of the family to the deceased.

The authorized member will be required to fill out a special form, with his or her details as below;

After filling out his details, he will need to submit details of the deceased to twitter. Required details include deceased’s username as well as his real name and address.


There are two options available on Instagram in the event that family members or friend want to close the deceased’s account;

  1. Asking for the memorialization of the account or
  2. Delete the account permanently

Before the request for the memorialization of the account is approved, the family must provide solid proof that he is the right immediate deceased’s representative.

How to delete your Instagram

  • To delete your Instagram, open the Instagram App on your mobile device or computer
  • Click on the username, click on edit profile
  • scroll down and click on click delete my Account


Like in Instagram and Facebook, to close a YouTube account the family member or any other authorized person will need to fill a special form online. Provide his Government identity card as well as a certified copy of the deceased. Provided all the required documents are availed, the account will be closed soon after approval. It must also be noted that the same form used to close Gmail account is the same form that can be used to close YouTube account as both services are owned by Google


Unfortunately, SnapChat has only one option available to handle the deceased’s account. The most decent thing you can do to ensure proper management of your account is done is to make provisions before your untimely demise. You can either;

  • Leave instructions on who should look after your online SnapChat account
  • In a will, write your passwords and login in details to be used by the person you would have chosen

When you have decided to give someone full control your account, it is necessary to tell him what to do with the account. This can be short-lived as most social media do not allow anyone besides the account User, the moment they discover that, they will permanently delete the account

Data and privacy policy

What do you think about the idea of having your data and social accounts managed by one of your family members, wife or friend after you are gone? Is it a noble idea? There are mixed feelings when it comes to this issue.

Leaving a will or provision as to who will be allowed access to your accounts can greatly help. Leaving a will only not be enough without names of accounts, login in details and passwords.

He likes to play with the latest phones, gaming consoles, PCs, laptops and when he gets some spare time he likes to do VFX stuff. You can always find him playing with tools like Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, After Effects, etc. His current gear is Galaxy Note 9+. He is a well-established website developer and entrepreneur.

13 Replies to “What happens to your online accounts when you die”

  1. Thank you for this Ngonidzashe,

    I have always thought about this but I never knew of a way out. I even have some friends who have passed away and their accounts are still active. It is really great to read about the provisions the various social media have laid out for that time. 

    1. You are welcome.

      Most of the time we thank about what will happen to our bank accounts, property, when we are no longer around. Its good but about our PayPal, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest accounts etc? They are usually left unattended and may be used for criminal activities by certain individuals online. So that must be prevented

  2. I never really thought about what would happen to the various accounts I have online if I was hit by a bus tomorrow – I have quite a bit of money spread out through various platforms…

    I’m aware that Facebook are pretty tactful when someone dies – I’ve always quite liked the idea of the Memorialized page as it gives friends and relatives somewhere to go to voice their memories/concerns/regrets. 

    Excellent article – covering a subject I’d never really thought about before!

  3. Wow, I had no idea that you could choose to memorialize your account after you die, by setting a legacy contact. I guess it’s sort of like a will for your facebook. It’s a pretty good idea and I’m glad that facebook has that set up. It seems like a good option for people instead of just closing the account permanently because it will help them remember thier loved ones and they can look back on the good times they might have had together.

  4. Hi Ngonidzashe,
    Death is usually one of the most difficult topics to talk about and also one of the most important one’s to discuss with family members. I must comment you on the value of the information you shared with us. I am definitely going to use it and also share it with my friends. Looking forward to more topics like this from you.

    1. I agree with you Peter, most people don’t want to involve themselves with any topic that has the word “death”, in it. But, can we run away from it after all? Probably NO. Our houses, cars and other estates can be easily handed over to our children when we pass away because there are title deeds and ownership papers readily available. What about your online accounts? It’s quite a noble idea to take care of them even after the owner is no longer available.

  5. Oh my gosh, I never thought about what to do with all the accounts in the event of my death! Great information here! I’m going to go add a couple people to my accounts now! Thank you!

    1. It’s a very important but most ignored issue Lynne, am glad it helped you.

  6. WOW…thanks so much for this information, Ngonidzashe. I did not know about this and it really is important to say the least. Thanks for sharing and I will also share this on my social network. All the best.

    1. You are welcome Michelle, am glad it helped you. You were not alone, so much people and even me weren’t aware but I was alerted by the death of my friend. He had so many online accounts, unfortunately, he died and left nothing of his passwords and login in details and the family had a hard time to apply in order to gain access into some of his online financial accounts. I learned a lot of things and I thought to myself “why not alert other people about this topic”.It drove me to write this article.

  7. That was a quite interesting writing as I had no about this stuff. And I think memorializing facebook account come in handy in this situation.

    1. Sure Furkan, with the growing use of Facebook, that will mean family and friends will have more time to send last words of remembering the deceased. Memorializing the profile account was a really commendable move by Facebook, hope all social platforms will copy.

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