When you pass on, what happens to your online accounts? In some cases, nothing. They continue to exist ad infinitum. However, for some, after a period of inactivity, they will automatically be deleted.
So what should you do if you don’t want your accounts to be deleted or your online purchases (movies, music, books) lost?
Facebook – Specify “Legacy Contacts” who have the authority to manage your account upon your passing. Go to Settings – General – Memorialization Settings and identify who is authorized to manage your memorialized account after you pass away. If you do not want anyone to do this, you can also simply specify that your account be deleted when you die.
Google – For all Google-owned applications (YouTube, Google Photos, Google Play, etc.), use “Inactive Account Manager” (https://myaccount.google.com/inactive) to specify what happens to your accounts. You can identify when it should be considered inactive and what should happen to your data. You can also specify with whom your information should be shared or simply instruct that Google delete your account and all the information.
Twitter – After a 6-month period of inactivity, your account will automatically be deactivated.
Apple – The “Terms & Conditions” state that your account is non-transferable. Therefore, your account will be terminated which means all data (photos in iCloud, movies, music, apps, etc.) will be deleted. However, to avoid this, set up “Family Sharing” so that your photos and purchases can be shared with your loved ones prior to your death so they will not be lost.
The simplest way to ensure your loved ones continue to have access to your accounts is to use a password manager to store all your account credentials. Then, in a legal document to be given to your designee upon your passing, include the login credentials for the password manager. With the increasing use of multi-factor authentication (MFA), this may also require access to your smartphone. Therefore, in the document, be sure to include a provision for them to have and access to your phone.