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What If I Die Without A Will

A close friend of mine has recently died. His Facebook page remains visible and continues to exist as if he was still alive. I want to know what happens to Facebook accounts once their users have died and what can be done to these accounts? Also, I don’t think my friend had a will, what will happen to his estate?   

Thank you kindly.

Thanks for your email Simon, you have raised two issues which I will deal with separately.

What happens to your Facebook account when you die?

There are two options available, either you can get Facebook to delete the account or you can request the account be turned into a memorial.

A request will need to be sent to Facebook, whereby proof of the person’s death can be given. As Facebook is a web-based company with more than a billion users, it can be incredibly difficult to contact Facebook at all. Nevertheless, a form is required to be filled in requesting either a memorialization or deletion of the person’s account.

If you choose to delete the account, then all the information stored on the account will be deleted.

If you choose memorialization, Facebook will change the account so that no one is allowed to log into the account, the content cannot be altered and no further friends can be added. The memorialized accounts no longer appear in ‘public spaces’ such as birthday reminders or ‘people you may know’.

Friends are able to share memories on the memorialised timeline, depending on the account holder’s privacy settings.

As older users sign up to various personal online accounts, dealing with the accounts of deceased persons will become an increasing issue. If you want a family member to deal with your digital information, it may be a good idea to make a list of log-on names and passwords, these details could be put in a private memorandum available at your death.

What happens if you die without a will?

Dying intestate (without a will), can create significant problems to the family members of the deceased. The deceased’s estate will be distributed in accordance with the Administration Act 1969 and/or the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

Many people incorrectly assume that if their partner dies without a will, then they will inherit everything. However, this is only the case if they die leaving behind no parents or children.

The Administration Act 1969 states that the spouse or de facto of the deceased will get a majority share of the deceased’s estate and their personal chattels. The remaining share of the estate will go to one of the following classes (in order of priority); Children, Parents or Siblings.  If the deceased leaves behind no spouse or de facto partner nor any close relatives upon their death, then the estate will go to the govenment.

The close relatives of those who die intestate also need to decide on the funeral arrangements, which can cause added stress during an already emotional time. Having written wishes gives those close to the deceased comfort that they are following their wishes.

If you have underage children then it is vital that you appoint guardians in your will. If you do not leave clear instructions someone would need to apply to the Court to be appointed as a guardian.

I hope this information has been helpful.

Do not hesitate to contact Metro Law should you have any further questions.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Hemphill

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