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After people die, their social media accounts amay have to be dealt with by an executor or surviving relative. California residents may benefit from learning how this should be handled.

The terms of service of each platform on which the decedent had an account should be examined. The different social media websites each have a different policy for handling the death of a user. Facebook requires the completion of certain online forms in order to memorialize or delete an account. After being notified of a user’s death, Twitter will request a copy of a death certificate and the identification of the individual requesting the deactivation of an account. LinkedIn requests details, such as the decedent’s obituary and email address.

Individuals who logon to an account that is not theirs may be in breach of not only the website’s terms of service, but also federal law. Because the legal aspect of online accounts is relatively new, there is some uncertainty about the consequences of using a deceased individual’s account. The matter gets more complicated when combined with administering an estate. It is recommended that individuals read the terms of service for the various social media platforms and adhere to the procedure provided for getting account deleted or memorialized to ensure that no laws are broken. Individuals should also be careful not to hurry to social media to notify others of a loved one’s death. Immediate family and friends should be called before anything is announced online.

Attorneys who practice estate administration law may advise individuals of how to handle certain assets of a deceased loved one. Additional services may include resolving probate issues and resolving disputes among heirs.