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Short and Sweet Summary: Options vary with each social media brand and online profile regarding what happens to an online account after someone dies. If it’s been left up to you to decide what to do with your deceased spouse’s social media accounts, start with these suggestions.

As if there isn’t enough to deal with post-death, now you have to decide what to do with your deceased spouse’s social media accounts.

How do you freeze or delete an online account after someone dies? What’s the safest way to deal with your spouse’s social media accounts after his death?

Options vary with each social media brand and online profile regarding what happens to online accounts after some dies. It’s up to you to decide if you want to do anything at all, such as memorialize or deleting an account altogether.

Every website/company has different terms of service (TOS). This can be overwhelming, so take your time and read the information below to decide on an appropriate strategy for each social media account.

Some accounts like Amazon or PayPal may still have funds available to withdraw. Be sure to confirm if any money is due before closing the account altogether.

Here are the steps to take for most of the major social media players.

Should you even delete social media accounts?

It’s not necessary to make any quick decisions about social media accounts. They’re not going anywhere unless you take steps to remove the account. So, take as long as you need to decide what to do. But keep in mind that sometimes inactive accounts are voluntarily removed.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to download any photos or messages you want to keep RIGHT NOW in case the social media account gets removed before you decide what to do.

Google 

One Google account could be linked to several different products including Google Drive, Gmail, and YouTube for example. Many of your deceased spouse’s social media accounts might be tied into Google.

Before you make any decisions about what to do with a Google account, it’s best to verify whether your spouse used Gmail. A Gmail account could be used for email correspondence, to conduct any online banking or to connect other social media accounts. You don’t want to delete this email account if it’s associated with other transactions.

Also, before deleting a Google account and all its associated products, please make plans to backup or transfer any files, photos, or emails you want to keep. Once you delete the Google account you won’t be able to recover its contents.  

If you don’t have the login information, you can submit a request to Google to obtain data from the account.

Review your data 

For a complete view of the Google account and its associated data, log onto the Google Dashboard to see ALL Google services and activity data. The Google Dashboard will show whether a Gmail, Google Drive or YouTube accounts exists. You can also see any Google Music files or photos.

Download your data 

Downloading or exporting your data doesn’t delete it just yet. To be clear, you’re simply moving the data to another location as a copy or backup. You can download a copy of your Google data to a cloud-based solution like Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive.

Or you can purchase an external hard drive like this one and keep a copy of your data at home.

Follow the instructions in the Download Your Data support document to make sure you complete all of the applicable steps.  

Delete the account 

Once you’ve downloaded your data and completed the review and backup procedures, you can delete the account. Follow the instructions on the Delete Your Google Account support page to complete the applicable steps. 


Facebook 

Facebook gives you a couple of options regarding the way you can honor a loved one after death. For example, you can memorialize an account, add a tribute section, increase controls for a legacy contact or delete the account altogether.  

Read, Making It Easier to Honor a Loved One on Facebook After They Pass Away for more the latest information on honoring the memory of loved ones. 

Legacy contact controls 

A legacy contact is someone who manages a memorialized account. Confirm that you’re the legacy contact to prevent anyone else from trying to memorialize the account without your permission.

As the legacy contact for your spouse’s account, you can accept friend requests, manage tribute posts to the profile and change the profile picture and cover photo.  

Click here for more information on Legacy Contacts. 

Memorialize account 

If you wish to continue allowing friends and family to share memories, you can choose to memorialize the account. The legacy contact will secure and manage the account details.

Click here for more information on memorializing a Facebook account. 

Add a tribute account 

A new “Tributes” section expands on memorialized accounts by allowing friends and family to share posts while mainlining the account’s original timeline. A separate tab for Tributes lets people share stories that are separate from any account history. 

Delete account 

If you wish to delete an account altogether, click here for instructions. Next, you’ll need to provide a copy of the death certificate. Keep in mind that when you delete an account, friends can still access messaging history that isn’t stored in the account.  


Instagram

Facebook owns Instagram so you’ll find similar options to delete or memorialize an Instagram profile after someone dies.

Unlike Facebook, Instagram doesn’t provide a legacy contact feature.

Memorialize account

If you choose to memorialize an Instagram account, the profile won’t appear any different. Memorializing an Instagram account simply allows the posts the deceased person shared to remain on Instagram. Any posts, including photos or videos, are still visible to the audience they were shared with

Once memorialized, the account can’t be changed in any way. No one can log in or make any changes, including adding new posts or comments.

Click here to request the memorialization of your deceased spouse’s account. You will need to provide a link to or upload a screenshot of an obituary or news article.

Delete account

To delete an Instagram account, you must provide proof of your relationship to the deceased. You’ll need to upload a death certificate, the deceased person’s birth certificate or proof that you’re responsible for managing the estate.

Click here to request the removal of your deceased spouse’s account.


Amazon

Amazon has two different types of membership. One is a Basic account and the other is a Prime Membership account. 

Prime membership

Prime Membership account is a fee-based account, so be sure to close this one first.  Canceling a Prime membership is pretty straightforward. You simply select “end membership” on this page.  Any unused benefits are refunded in full. 

Basic membership

A Basic Amazon account is linked to all of its services such as purchase history,  Kindle, Photos or anything stored on the Amazon Drive. Before cancelling a Basic account, make sure you download any content you want to save.  You can read all the instructions for closing an Amazon account here.

Otherwise, if you elect to keep an Amazon account open but just want to change the email address or remove a payment, you can change the account settings instead

Twitter 

Twitter will work with you to deactivate your deceased spouse’s account, but they will not give you full access to the account per their privacy policy.  

Click here to contact Twitter about deactivating an account. After you fill out some preliminary questions online, Twitter will send you an email with further instructions. 


LinkedIn 

LinkedIn allows you to remove your deceased spouse’s profile. Click here for the list of information LinkedIn will request from you before proceeding. You will need to provide information such as your relationship to the deceased and either a copy of the death certificate or a link to an online obituary. 

After you gather the required information, you can remove a LinkedIn Profile and close the account by filling out a form


Ebay

Ebay allows you to close a deceased person’s account, but first you must confirm all fees are paid and the account balance is zero.

If for some reason you elect to keep the account open, the security terms won’t allow transferring the account to your name. However, you could be added as a secondary contact on the current account.

To learn more about closing an eBay account, click here.


PayPal

You can close your deceased spouse’s PayPal account, but you must provide legal documentation or a copy of the will that identifies you as an executor. Because PayPal is a financial transaction system, it will only communicate with an authorized executor or administrator. 

You must provide several documents for PayPal to review before proceeding with account closure. Any money remaining in the account will be disbursed via a check in the name of the deceased account holder or transferred to the bank account attached to the PayPal account.  


Pinterest

If you have your deceased spouse’s login information, you can go directly to the Pinterest account and delete it. Simple click on “account setting,” scroll to the bottom and click the “close account” button.

If you don’t have the login information, email care@pinterest.com and request an account closure. You will need to provide your name, a link to the Pinterest account, proof of death and proof of your relation.

A link to an online obituary would cover the proof of death and proof of relation. But you can also attach a copy of the death and/or marriage certificate for the required proof.


Widow Wrap Up

Taking care of your deceased spouse’s social media accounts can be a time-consuming job.

The most important thing to do before deciding to close or delete accounts is to transfer any files you want to keep. Files like photos, videos, or emails should be downloaded and backed up before you tackle any social media to do’s.

If all of this becomes too much, just take it in chunks. You don’t have to do everything in one day or even one week. Set aside some time to accomplish one task per day. It’ll get done eventually.

Until then, keep on keeping on.


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