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Should I close social media accounts when someone dies?

Traditionally some of the main things to consider when someone has died are whether there is a valid Will, what assets the deceased owned and who is going to inherit after the administration of the estate had been completed. 

However, as technology continues to advance and social media becomes a way of life there are a whole new range of issues to consider when administering an estate in the digital world.

According to a report in the first quarter of this year by digital marketing company Smart Insight, global active social media users surpassed the 3.8 billion mark with this number increasing by more than 9 percent since this time last year.

Whilst you can sometimes spend hours scrolling through someone’s pictures, posts, and videos on their social media account it raises the question over what to do with the accounts when someone dies. 

There are various options available when dealing with the social media accounts of someone who has died; you can delete them, memorialise them, or take no action at all and leave them as they are.

Each social media platform has its only terms and conditions, for example a Facebook page will remain active indefinitely until the organisation are informed that the person has died, whereas a Twitter account will be closed down after six months of inactivity. 

Some accounts can be extremely lucrative when used for social media influencing or blogging, Kat Richardson, Creative Director of influencer marketing agency WaR, explained whilst speaking with the BBC that Instagram accounts with around a million followers can command £10,000 for a one-off post.  Therefore, with social media accounts having developed from ways of keeping in touch with friends and family to potentially generating significant sums of money there are issues to consider over ownership of content, who has authority to deal with the accounts when someone has died and what the best course of action is for each account.

Even if an account is not used for a business means it can still be a difficult decision to delete someone’s account as it can feel very final.  When dealing with any element of administering an estate it is always best to seek professional advice first to make sure you are acting within the appropriate parameters, following the correct process and adhering to the law. 

Barrett and Co are here to support you and help you through these difficult times.  If you would like to discuss what to do when someone has died or any other matter, please do not hesitate to telephone 0118 958 9711 or email [email protected] and someone from the team will be in touch to assist you.

Further Reading:

Meet the Private Client Team – Nicholas Buckle, Solicitor

Wills Witnessed by Video Link Become Legal – BBC Radio Berkshire

6 Roles and Responsibilities of a Personal Representative: Part 2

Get in Touch

Juliette Spanner is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and works in the Private Client department at Barrett & Co.

If you would like to get in touch with Juliette or have a question for her regarding her area of work, please email her at [email protected] or call her on 0118 958 9711.

"barrettandco" and "Barrett & Co" are trading names of Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP, a Limited Liability Partnership incorporated in England and Wales under registration number OC356263, with registered office at Salisbury House, 54 Queens Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4AZ. Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority www.sra.org.uk (SRA Number 549694).

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