What Happens to Everything You Have Online When You Die?

Many of you may not know that my mom passed away on November 8, 2014.  She was only 63 and died from complications of pneumonia and stubbornness.  I say stubbornness because she was sick and just kept thinking she would get better, so she didn’t seek help until it was too late.

When it happened I immediately posted it on Facebook which I am so thankful to Mark Zuckerberg for because it saved me hundreds of phone calls, conversations, explanations, and tears. People began sharing their memories and condolences on Facebook.  I knew eventually I wanted to either memorialize the page or print everything on it and then delete it. I’m not a fan of having a deceased persons account notifying me of their birthday the following year.

My brother and I were faced with the task of flying to Florida (where she passed) and taking care of her physical estate (that’s a whole different blog by the way).  After I returned home I went through all of her paperwork in hopes of finding a list of passwords to all of her accounts.  She had used the same password for many years so of course I tried that first to no avail. It seems that she finally wised up and changed it but didn’t let anyone know what it was.

I have always had access to her Facebook because I would update it and put new pictures of Sam (her grandson) on there for her.  She didn’t let me know she changed her password the very last time.  So I have struggled and tried a hundred times to figure it out but my mom was unpredictable when it came to passwords.  Same goes for all of her e mail accounts as well.

I have had to look up policies for each account she had and see how to close the accounts or see if they would eventually be closed.  I know her yahoo account has already been hacked because I recently received an e mail from it.  As for Facebook, I have already printed everything everyone wrote and in time I will close it.  I don’t even really want to memorialize it, but some people might want that for their loved ones.

This is a discussion you and your spouse, parents, adult children or anyone else who’s information you may be entrusted with need to have.  It’s so much easier when you have wishes and passwords.  I’ve included a few of the links I have found below:

What will happen to my Facebook account if I pass away?

What is a Facebook Legacy Contact?

Google Inactive Account Manager: Decide What Happens to Your Account After You Die

Options available when a Yahoo Account owner passes away

How do I report a deceased person’s account on Instagram?

Contacting Twitter about a deceased user or media concerning a deceased family member

How do I close the account of a LinkedIn member who passed away?

What happens to your bank account when you die?

I’m also including a link to my friend Kim Oser’s blog which includes a downloadable form that includes the most common articles you will need and indicates where they are located, Are You Prepared For Death and Dying?

Book to read: Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy? (Voices That Matter)”

I hope this helps you and your family prepare for the future.

23 thoughts on “What Happens to Everything You Have Online When You Die?

  1. This is so valuable. Thank you. I plan to add this information to my important papers for my loved ones. I am 63 also and I know leaving them to deal with stuff is a certainty that I must prepare for. I would love to get your thoughts on what would have helped you and your brother deal with your mom’s physical estate, as well. Again thank you and my sincere condolences.

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    • Thank you so much for reading this Linda. I think it is very important and I first learned about it in a class at NAPO Conference 2014 I took from Collette Robicheau about your Virtual Afterlife. It hadn’t really crossed my mind until then. So she really deserves the credit!

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  2. This is really important. When my mom passed away, her Facebook page stood as a nice memorial page for awhile. However, when her first birthday came we all got messages to wish her a happy birthday. It really bothered my sister. Thank goodness I had her iPad and so we were able to get in there and delete her account at that time. I would not have known how to proceed if I didn’t have that iPad. Thanks for this post!

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    • Thanks so much for your comment. I feel the same way! Right now it kind of trips me out when I see how she has liked a comment in the past and it comes up. It’s just time consuming to get the FB page down but I will get it done. I’m just going to let her e mail run out on it’s own.

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  3. Thanks for sharing these links. Social media sites make it so difficult to find what their policies are on closing the account. You have just saved so much time for everyone. I will definitely share this one! Thanks again.

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  4. Reblogged this on Finding Myself Through Writing and commented:
    Good advice here from Rocky Parenting! I have had these thoughts often. Recently I’ve started ‘my little black book’ with names of accounts, passwords, users names, and other details. I don’t want my ‘stuff’ floating around in cyberspace indefinitely! ~Elle

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  5. Thank you for bringing this up. An uncle of mine died a couple of years ago. His wife does know the passwords to his social media accounts, but no one has taken the initiative to memorialize his account. I don’t understand why. The ones who were connected with him online still get notifications on his birthday. I can’t ask to do it as it would seem disrespectful since I am a lot younger. I wish I could do something about it.

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    • The same thing happened to my aunt and we still get notified of her birthday. Maybe his wife doesn’t know you can memorialize the account and she doesn’t want it closed. Could you forward this blog in an e mail to her and just say you thought it might be helpful? Or you might could pass it to whoever her sibling is (your mom or dad) and asked them to pass it along. You could also un-friend your uncle’s page if it is really upsetting you to see the alerts. 🙂 Best of luck!

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  6. Valuable info. Most people don’t know that unless these accounts are left in their will … or you have their passwords it’s nearly impossible to “get inside.” So many twists and turns now with all technology and things in the clouds. We need to start thinking about Digital wills.

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  7. Pingback: What Happens to Everything You Have Online When You Die? | Finding Myself Through Writing

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