What Will Happen to My Yelp Account After I Die?

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

  • Whether you've left a plan
  • Yelp's policies about the accounts of deceased people (tip – it has none)
  • Your state law

Have you Made a Plan?

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

Providing Access to Your Survivors

If you want someone to access to your Yelp account after you die – say, post a final message about your death 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 Yelp's Terms of Service agreement, and could be grounds for deleting your account. That said, practically speaking, giving a trusted person your username and password is probably well worth that risk – especially if you want your account deleted anyway.

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

Keeping Your Account Private

If you don't want anyone accessing your Yelp 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 is an effective way to make sure your account won't continue after you die. You can delete your account from Yelp's Closing Your Account page. Yelp does not give any indication about how long your profile will remain active after you request your account to be closed. And Yelp's Privacy Policy is clear that it will keep the data associated with your account as long as it needs it.

  • We will remove your public posts from view and/or dissociate them from your account profile, but we may retain information about you for the purposes authorized under this Privacy Policy unless prohibited by law.

The Privacy Policy also states that if you are a business owner you cannot delete your business's profile and reviews by closing your account.

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. (You must be logged in to delete the account, so they will need your login info.) Or you can have your executor or family member notify Yelp about your death. They can do this by flagging your profile. This must be done on a computer, not on a mobile device. Yelp doesn't provide much detail about this process, but it sounds like there is a chance that it won't work. Yelp says: Please note that providing us with this information [about the deceased user] does not necessarily mean that we'll close the account."

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

Instructing Yelp What to Do With Your Account When You Die

Yelp 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 Yelp to provide a similar tool.

If You Don't Make a Plan

As discussed above, if you don't make a plan for your Yelp account, your account will continue to exist until someone reports you that you have died and Yelp chooses to close the account. This is not a desirable outcome, particularly, if 1) you want someone to access your account or 2) if you want your account to remain private. On one hand, unless you leave instructions and access information for your account, the person wrapping up your estate (your executor) is unlikely to be able to get access to it (hopefully 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 Yelp 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 Yelp account will continue to exist until someone reports that you have died. At that time, Yelp may delete your account.

If you want more control over what happens to your Yelp 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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