What Will Happen to My LinkedIn Account After I Die?

By , Attorney

What happens to your LinkedIn account when you die depends on a few things, including:

  • Whether you've left a plan
  • LinkedIn's policies about the accounts of deceased people
  • Your state law

Have You Made a Plan for Your LinkedIn Account?

The surest way to know what will happen to your LinkedIn account is to make a plan and leave any necessary instructions to the people who will be wrapping up your estate.

If you want someone to access to your LinkedIn account after you die—say, to notify your connections about your death, post a final message, or delete your account—then leave instructions about 1) how to log in to the account and 2) what to do with it.

However, if you ask someone to access your account, keep in mind that sharing your password is a violation of LinkedIn's User Agreement and is grounds for deleting your account. That said, practically speaking, giving a trusted person your username and password is probably well worth this risk—especially if you want your account deleted anyway.

Read on to learn about LinkedIn's policies on inactive accounts, deleting accounts, and deleting the data associated with an account.

Keeping Your LinkedIn Account Private

If you don't want anyone accessing your LinkedIn account after you die, you have a few options:

Delete the account before you die. This is not always practical because you may want to continue to use your account during your life, but it works. You can delete your account from LinkedIn's Closing Your Account page. It will take a while for LinkedIn to delete all of the data associated with your account after the account is closed. LinkedIn's Privacy Policy states that it will remove your profile from the service within 24 hours. Presumably, this means that if someone searches for you, they won't be able to find your profile after 24 hours. However, cached versions of your profile may be found through web searches (link on Google or Bing) for a much longer time. Similarly, although LinkedIn may remove your profile within 24 hours, it will not delete or "depersonalize" the data associated with your account for up to 30 days. And if it has a legal reason to do so (like a request by law enforcement), it can keep your data indefinitely.

On the upside, in its Data Request Guidelines, LinkedIn says that it "cannot recover Invitations or Messages once they are permanently deleted by a Member, and cannot recreate evidence of Connections that have been severed." So it seems that you can permanently delete messages and sever connections. Of course, other copies of your messages may exist with the other senders or recipients—including recipients who received the message as a forward.

Instruct someone you trust to delete the account after you die. You can leave login information and instructions for someone go into the account and delete it after your death. Or you can have your executor or family member notify LinkedIn about your death and request that it terminate your account. LinkedIn has a process for this. Using this form, the survivor will need to provide:

  • your name
  • the URL to your LinkedIn profile
  • the survivor's relationship to you
  • your email address
  • the date you passed away
  • a link to your obituary, and
  • the name of the company at which you most recently worked

Don't depend on an inactive policy to delete the account. LinkedIn does not appear to have a policy about inactive accounts. Your LinkedIn account remains active until you choose to delete it or someone reports that you are dead. Because LinkedIn does not have a policy to delete inactive accounts, your account may remain active long after your death, which could be disturbing to the connections who continue to see your profile. As discussed above, your connections or survivors can report your death to LinkedIn, but you don't know when if they will do this. The surest way to make sure LinkedIn deletes your account after your death is to leave instructions and login information with a trusted person.

Instructing LinkedIn What to Do With Your Account When You Die

LinkedIn does not currently allow you to decide what should happen to your account when you die, but it might someday. Tech companies are recognizing that users may want to control the fate of their accounts and profiles after death, and some are creating the tools for this. For example, Google's Inactive Account Manager allows account holders to decide whether to delete the account or pass (some) account information on to survivors after a period of inactivity. Keep an eye out for LinkedIn to provide a similar tool.

If You Don't Make a Plan

As discussed above, if you don't make a plan for your LinkedIn account, your account will continue to exist until someone reports you that you have died. This is not a desirable outcome, particularly, if you want 1) someone to access your account or 2) your account to remain private. On one hand, unless you leave instructions, the person wrapping up your estate (your executor) is unlikely to get access to your account (deleting it will not be a problem). On the other hand, in some states, your executor may be able to get access even if that's not what you want.

A growing number of states have laws that grant executors authority to access digital accounts. "Account custodians" like LinkedIn could be required to provide access to executors. These are new and untested laws, and you can expect most companies to resist providing access to accounts, even in the states where the law requires it to do so.

You can learn more about this, including information about your state's law on Nolo's Digital Assets page.

The Bottom Line

If you do not make a plan, after your death, your LinkedIn account will continue to exist until someone reports that you have died. And then LinkedIn will delete your account.

If you want more control over what happens to your account, either plan for it to be deleted, or tell your loved ones how to log into it and what to do with it when they get in.

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