According to the most recent statistics available, 89.9% of the UK’s population regard themselves as regular users of the internet. By registering with different online services and websites you are able to do your banking and shopping and communicate with friends, among other things. But, when a loved one passes away what are the best practices for dealing with their online accounts?
While it’s OK for some accounts to be left alone as they will do little harm being left dormant (such as an eBay account or a Tesco online shopping account) it’s sometimes best to close down anything that could be used in their name in the future by fraudsters or that could simply confuse someone who doesn’t know they have passed away.
First of all you will most likely need to get access to their laptop or desktop computer. If you know their password then this should be straightforward. However, if you don’t know the password then you may need to get help from the manufacturer, such as Dell or Apple, by phoning their customer service team.
Next you should have a look around on their computer to see if there are any files on the computer which include details of the online accounts that they held and perhaps passwords and other log in details to grant you access.
If you aren’t sure exactly what accounts they held then you can have a look through their web browser history to see which websites they were visiting, or look on their bank statements to see what online services they were subscribed too.
Most people that sign up for online services and accounts use their email address as their primary method of registration. They are then sent emails from that provider confirming their registration and may also receive updates occasionally. So searching through their emails is another way to see what online accounts they hold.
Dealing with e-mail accounts
If you have their email address handy then you should be able to tell which email service they used by looking at the latter half of the email address – for example ‘email@example.com’ or ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
If your loved one had an account with Google then you can obtain access by visiting their website and submitting a request form. Here you can choose to close a user’s account, request funds or obtain data from it.
If you want to obtain access to a loved one’s hotmail account then if you are the executor of their estate you may be able to request access provided you can gather the correct documentation. Click here for further details of the process.
If they had a private email address such as ‘email@example.com’ then you should look through their bank statement and see if you can find any companies related to email hosting and contact them directly.
Facebook is used by many people around the world to communicate with each other. The social media network made changes recently which allow a person’s account to be ‘memorialised’. This means that next to the users name will be the word ‘remembering’ – i.e. ‘Remembering John Smith’.
It will also make some changes to the account which reduce the chances of upsetting people in the future, for example the person will no longer come up as a ‘suggested friend’ or remind friends when it’s their birthday. Click here to learn how to request a memorialisation.
For further advice on managing a loved one’s estate after their death please read our free guide ‘Useful information when a loved one dies’.