Handling a decedent’s social media accounts

When Pennsylvania residents die, their executors or administrators may want to know more about the best way to handle their social media accounts. Although the fate of a social media handle may seem to be a trivial thing at a time when there may be so many major issues to address, the timely resolution of a loved one’s account may ultimately be in the best interests of all concerned.

At best, the ghost account could have an unsettling effect on acquaintances if the decedent’s name pops up in a list of suggested friends. Under some circumstances, contact made in connection with the account could trigger unexpected and unnecessary grief. Immediate family and close friends should be notified of the loss in a more intimate way than by a tweet or post, which could cause shock or undue distress to those who might accidentally stumble upon it.

Once those who were closest to the deceased have received the news, a digital post could be an appropriate way to inform others of the details and final arrangements. However, logging on to the decedent’s account to post a message may not be legal. A review of the rules of each account could help the decedent’s personal representative avoid a possible violation of federal law. Then, at the right time and upon submission of the appropriate paperwork, the representative may be able to deactivate or memorialize the account.

Estate administration is often complex, and social media could potentially complicate issues that the personal representative may have to address. When impacted by the death of a loved one, Pennsylvania residents may find it easier to make smart choices with the help of an estate administration attorney.