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What Will Happen to My Plenty of Fish Account When I Die?

What happens to your Plenty of Fish (POF) account when you die depends on a few things, including:

  • whether you've left a plan
  • your state law, and
  • Plenty of Fish's policies about the accounts of deceased people.

Have you Made a Plan?

The surest way to know what will happen to your Plenty of Fish account is to plan ahead, leaving any necessary instructions to the people who will be wrapping up your estate.

Providing Your Survivors with Access to Your Account

If you want someone to access your Plenty of Fish account after your death, leave instructions about 1) how to log in to the account and 2) what to do with it. Why would you want to give someone else access your account after you die? Maybe to let the people you've been communicating with know that you've died, or to deactivate your account so that other users won't be able to see your profile. (If you have friends or family who also have Plenty of Fish accounts, it might be disturbing to them to come across your profile after your death.)

However, if you ask someone to access your account, keep in mind that Plenty of Fish's Terms of Use Agreement expects you to keep your login information private – so it might delete your account if it discovers someone else is using it – which may be what you want anyway.

Read on to learn more about how POF's policies (or lack thereof) about inactive accounts, keeping your information private, and deleting inactive accounts.

Keeping Your Account Private

If you prefer to keep your account private, you have a few options.

Delete the account before you die. This is not always practical, but it may be the most effective way to keep your account private.

POF allows you to put your account on hold or delete your account. If you delete your account, you will not be able to reactivate your profile or have access to any of your profile's data. However, POF's website and Terms of Service Agreement give no indication that it deletes the profile from its servers. In fact, the Terms of Service agreement says:

  • We keep your information only as long as we need it for legitimate business purposes and to meet any legal requirements. Personal information used to make a decision that directly affects an individual will be kept for at least one year after such a decision. We have retention standards that meet these parameters.

Unlike many other sites POS has no detailed policy about how it will keep your information -- just "as long as we need it for business purposes" and "at least" one year. So even though you can choose to "permanently" delete your POS profile, your data will remain on POS's servers for an unknown amount of time.

This concern was highlighted in the Ashley Madison account breach in August 2015. The data taken from the website include data from deleted accounts – even when account holders paid extra for a "Full Delete." According to Business Insider, "While things like your email address, full name, street address, and phone number were erased, Ashley Madison allegedly retained the user's date of birth, GPS-based coordinates, and ID number, among other things."

So once you create a POF profile, there may be no way to completely delete it.

Instruct someone you trust to delete the account after you die. If you don't want to delete your account before you die, you can leave login information and instruct someone go into the account and delete it after your death. Unlike many other online membership sites, Plenty of Fish has no official process survivors to request that the account be deleted. So it is uncertain whether survivors will be able to delete your account without your login and password information.

Again, keep in mind that your personal information may never be permanently deleted (see above).

Depend on Plenty of Fish's inactive policy to delete the account. Plenty of Fish does not have a published policy about when it deletes inactive accounts. So, if you don't delete your account or put it on hold, your account may remain active indefinitely. If you want to keep your account private after your death, do not rely on Plenty of Fish to eventually delete your profile.

Instructing Plenty of Fish What to Do With Your Account When You Die

Plenty of Fish does not currently allow you to decide what should happen to your account when you die. Companies that do business online are starting to recognize that users might want a choice about whether their accounts should be delete, archived, or passed onto another person. And some companies are providing tools that allow account holders to decide the fate of their accounts. 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. It's doubtful (given its thin policies about deleting accounts) but possible that Plenty of Fish may someday provide a similar tool.

If You Don't Make a Plan

If you don't make a plan for your Plenty of Fish account, your profile will continue to be active indefinitely. As discussed above, Plenty of Fish does not have a transparent policy about when it removes inactive accounts, but it is possible that it has one and that – eventually, someday, maybe – Plenty of Fish will remove your profile.

Your executor could try to access your account –to retrieve information, send messages, or delete your profile. Without login and password information, your executor will have a very tough time getting access to the account, and Plenty of Fish is unlikely to provide your executor access unless it is legally obligated to do so. Until recently, those legal obligations have been few and far between. However, the law is changing and in a growing number of states your executor may have authority to demand access to or information from your account.

In a growing number of states and under limited circumstances, "account custodians" like Plenty of Fish may be legally obligated to provide access to or information about a deceased person's account. These are new and untested laws, and you can expect Plenty of Fish will do everything it can not to grant access to your executor, even in the states where the law requires it to do so. It remains to be seen what will happen in this unsettled area of law.

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 active Plenty of Fish account will probably continue to exist indefinitely. Depending on your state, your executor may have a slim chance to gain authority over your account, but it will be a struggle. If you want to control what happens to your profile, either delete it before you die or provide instructions and access information to someone you trust.

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