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What Happens in Social Media, Stays in Social Media (Even After Death)

If you are reading this at the website, you probably have some familiarity with social media. You may even have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or one of the other social media platforms. Of course, you need to set up an account to use one of these sites — an account that may contain a lot of personal information. Unfortunately, these sites cannot read obituaries, so they don’t know if the user is alive or not. Once a person with an account passes on, the social media platform just stoically sits there as if nothing happened.

People can still access whatever you have posted, which can be misleading and embarrassing, and not a little spooky. It’s a bit disconcerting when a “friend” or other contact receives a notice about the decedent’s birthday or work anniversary. Also, a wealth of information will remain out there for scammers to skim and squander.

If you have the right information, you can notify the account platform and have the decedent’s account removed or, in some cases, memorialized. A memorialized account allows friends and family to post memories and memorial items to the account to honor the person’s life. This information will only be visible to the original contacts and not to the world in general. Of course, a deleted account will disappear entirely.

Facebook, for one, allows the user to set up a “legacy contact,” someone who can manage the account on the decedent’s behalf. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all allow someone with the proper proof of death to delete an account. Different platforms require different proofs, perhaps including an obituary, death certificate, memorial card, proof of relationship or executor status, identification, etc. Because terms may change at any time, it is best to check the settings or terms of use or contact the platform directly to determine what is needed, preferably before your loved one passes on. It’s always best to be prepared.

So, if you find out about your loved one’s online presence and are ready to gather the required proofs, you can rest assured that what happens in social media doesn’t stay on social media!

If you need legal advice in managing an estate, trust, other elder law issue or veteran’s benefits, the Law Office of Scott C. Painter can help. We specialize in elder law issues ranging from nursing home planning, guardianship, wills, trusts, estates, veteran’s benefits, and other related legal matters. Attorney Scott Painter is CELA® certified under the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF).

A call to us is free, and the best advice is to act now to educate yourself about your options. Waiting to seek legal counsel may limit your options and be costly. Call now for your free consultation at 610-378-5140 or visit for more information.