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Dealing with social media when handling an estate

When a California resident passes away, friends and loved ones may not be thinking about deceased's social media accounts. However, these can be a permanent reminder that the deceased once impacted the lives of so many people. In some cases, that person's account may appear on a suggested friend's list or on a timeline unexpectedly. This could trigger bouts of grief or sadness for those who knew the individual.

Executors or fiduciaries for a deceased person may have different options depending on the platform site. For instance, Facebook will memorialize or delete an account after receiving a death certificate. The same protocol is true for Instagram accounts. If a person wishes to delete a deceased individual's Twitter account, the company will first contact that person and ask for identification and a death certificate.

It is generally not a good idea to inform others about a death through social media. Instead, the news should be delivered through a phone call or personal meeting. Calling prior to making a post is a good way to show respect for the deceased and his or her loved ones. Furthermore, it may be necessary to get permission to use an account. Failure to do so could be a violation of federal law.

The executor of an estate may wish to consult with an attorney when it comes to handling social media or similar accounts. As technology evolves, there may be uncertainties in estate and other laws that an executor and an attorney may address together. Seeking assistance may make it less likely that an executor violates the law or goes against a deceased person's wishes. Avoiding such issues may allow for probate or other steps related to settling an estate to conclude promptly.

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