The process for dealing with post-mortem web accounts is a new challenge for those experiencing the loss of a loved one. The average Internet user has over 25 online accounts according to a Microsoft study. Almost everyone uses the Internet in some way, and of those who use the Internet, 72% have social media accounts. These accounts — along with other digital accounts such as online banking and email accounts — need to be managed after a person’s death.

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Source: Hutchison Funeral Home / Hutchison Funeral Home

State Laws

Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nevada, and Idaho are the only six states that have laws in place to designate control over digital accounts after a person has died. Generally, the state laws simply require companies like Facebook and Google to hand over access to these accounts when a representative of the deceased provides a written request. Some of the state laws only apply to email accounts, leaving confusion about social media and other password-locked accounts.

Company Policies

To compound the complicated nature of this issue, many of the sites themselves — Facebook and Twitter, for example — retain some rights to the content posted by the person’s account. Thus, these companies are making their own rules about how to manage post-mortem accounts.


Upon the death of a Twitter user, the company provides a form for requesting account deactivation. This form must be filled out by the deceased’s estate executor or a verified immediate family member. Twitter also requires a copy of the death certificate and a copy of the ID of the person requesting deactivation. The company will not provide access to the account for anyone — they only offer the option of deactivation upon death.

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