What Happens to Your Social Media & E-Mail When You Die?

Good morning to you all.  I know it has been a while since one of my posts has landed in your inbox.  Thank you to those of you who emailed to tell me you missed the postings.  I appreciate you understanding my taking the summer off to spend more time with my kids who were home from college and my family.  It was a great summer and I’m looking forward to a great fall and sharing with you more often.  Today I’m sharing a very special and thought-provoking post by my colleague and fellow blogger, Autumn Leopold.  I hope you appreciate Autumn’s message as much as I did.

My mom passed away on November 8, 2014. She was only 63 and died from complications of pneumonia and stubbornness. I say stubbornness because she was sick and just kept thinking she would get better, so she didn’t seek help until it was too late.

When it happened I chose to post it on Facebook which I am so thankful for because it saved me hundreds of phone calls, conversations, explanations, and tears. I had been gone on vacation (a Disney cruise) the week prior to her passing and had only received one text from her. I had no idea she was so sick.

People began sharing their condolences on Facebook. They posted the music mom loved and memories they shared. I knew eventually I wanted to either memorialize the page or print everything on it and then delete it. I’m not a fan of having a deceased person’s account notifying me of their birthday the following year.

My brother and I were faced with the task of flying to Florida (where she passed) and taking care of her very small physical estate (that’s a whole different blog by the way). After I returned home I went through all of her paperwork in hopes of finding a list of passwords to all of her accounts.

I always had access to her Facebook because I would update it and put new pictures of her grandson on there for her. She had used the same password for many years and had always shared it with me.  Unfortunately, before she died she didn’t let me know she had changed her password one last time.

I must have tried a hundred times to figure it out, but my mom was unpredictable when it came to passwords. I was locked out of her email and social media accounts. She may even have had accounts I’m not aware of.  My mom didn’t have a will and I wasn’t a legal representative of her estate so I had no legal rights to the accounts either. Not that that helps much.

Instead, I had to look up policies for each account she had to see how to close the accounts or see if they would eventually be closed by the company. As for Facebook, I printed everything everyone wrote and in time I will close it. Some people choose to leave Facebook accounts open and memorialize them, but that’s not for us.

I’m writing this today not to gain sympathy, but to stress the importance of having a conversation with your loved ones around this topic.  This is a discussion you, your spouse, your parents, adult children or anyone else whose information you may be entrusted with need to have.  If you want control of what happens to your online presence and social media when you die, get organized now.

I’ve included some helpful links I have found below:

Autumn300-1Autumn is a professional organizer and owner of Windfall Organizing in Windsor, Colorado.  She is also the creator of the blog Smart~Happy~Organized, which provides her readers with DIY organizing inspiration, tools to live smarter and happier, and access to other professional organizers and their extraordinary blogs and products. If you’re interested in learning more about Autumn or would like to subscribe to her blog – Smart~Happy~Organized, click here.


2 Responses to “What Happens to Your Social Media & E-Mail When You Die?”

  1. Janet Barclay August 18, 2016 9:04 am #

    This is a very thought-provoking post. I lost a friend a few months ago who was very active on the Internet. His wife had no access to his accounts and so they are still active. I like the fact that he often shows up in my “on this day” notices on Facebook, but it was very upsetting to see a lot of people who didn’t really know him wishing him a happy birthday on the fake birthday he used online to help prevent identity theft.

    • Andrea Sharb August 18, 2016 4:52 pm #

      Janet, Thanks for weighing in with your recent experience and I’m sorry for your loss. I’m not active on Facebook, but I have had prompts set up for birthdays in my calendar for years and I have to admit it brings a smile to my face to be reminded of my Grandma’s birthdate even though she passed away 13 years ago. They’re easy prompts to disable though, unlike the world of social media. I maintain all of my passwords in one program so my family members can easily take down all of my accounts when the day comes that I am no longer using them.

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