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What Happens To Your Instagram Account After You Die?

November 8, 2022
Over 1.44 billion of us have an Instagram account filled with personal images and videos. What happens to it all when we're no longer here, and is there anything we can do to plan ahead?
Written By Sharon HartungNovember 8, 2022

With 1.44 billion monthly active users, Instagram is currently the world’s fourth most popular social networking site. Instagram emphasizes photo and video sharing, letting users take, edit, and publish visual content for both followers and non-followers (as long as your account is public).

While Instagram has many exciting features such as live streaming and in-app video editing, they lack any features that allow you to appoint someone to take care of your account when you pass away. This means you will have no control over the legacy you leave behind. Especially if the account is monetized, issues could arise over the most appropriate person to take care of it.

Below, we go over everything you need to know about leaving behind an Instagram account.

Browse this content

  1. What is a Digital Legacy?
  2. What Does Instagram Do With Your Account When You Die?
  3. What Does Instagram Do With Your Account if You Become Incapacitated?
  4. Here’s How We Rate Instagram’s Legacy Program
  5. What Options for Instagram Legacy Planning Do You Have?

What is a Digital Legacy?

Digital legacy = the digital information that will still be available online following someone’s death.

Knowing how to manage a digital legacy after somebody passes is important given the rise of cybersecurity and identity theft. These accounts and information can lead to stolen identities. That’s why when you plan how your physical estate will be dealt with upon your passing, you also want a plan for your digital legacy.

So, what happens if an Instagram account holder passes away?

What Does Instagram Do With Your Account When You Die?

If an Instagram account holder passes away, there are essentially two options for their account: Memorialization or deletion.

Option 1: Memorialization

For “Memorialization“, a friend or family member must submit a request for a loved one’s account to be memorialized. They will have to provide:

  • Full name and Instagram handle of the deceased person
  • Proof of death (like an obituary or death certificate)
  • Date of death

Once memorialized, the account will have the word ‘remembering’ appear next to the username. All existing posts and videos are visible to the original audience they were shared with, but no more posts can be uploaded. No one will be able to log in to the account, and the profile won’t appear on the Explore page.

For example, after the death of Bollywood actor ​​Sushant Singh Rajput in 2020, Instagram memorialized his account so friends and fans could pay their respects and celebrate his life.

instagram legacy remembering

Option 2: Deletion

The alternative to Memorialization is Deletion. In this case, an authorized person must complete a form called “Removal Request for Deceased Person on Instagram.” They must provide proof of death in order to have an account permanently deleted.

If neither of these options are chosen, the account will remain live and vulnerable to potential security breaches.

What Does Instagram Do With Your Account if You Become Incapacitated?

When someone is incapacitated, they lack to ability to engage in some or all basic activities. As such, they won’t be able to use or operate their account. At the time of writing this article, there are no features in place to deal with the inability of an account holder to use and operate it. A search for the appropriate terms comes up empty.

instagram incapacity

Here’s How We Rate Instagram’s Legacy Planning

The big issue with Instagram’s digital legacy planning is that it doesn’t offer account holders the option to plan ahead and select how they would want their accounts handled after they die. Its current features only let a close friend or loved one make those requests after the fact.

This model relies on the assumption that people are having these planning conversations with their loved ones in advance. But, according to our recent survey, most people aren’t. Almost 70% of social media users aren’t even aware pre-planning is an option at all.

Based on our professional opinions at Epilogue, we would give Instagram a 2 out of 5 legacy score.

The Differences Between Instagram and Facebook Legacy Planning

Despite Instagram being owned by Meta, the two platforms differ quite a bit when it comes to legacy planning features. 

Facebook  Instagram
Allows you to choose a Legacy contact before death Doesn’t allow you to choose Legacy Contact
Legacy Contact can access the account No one can access the account
Legacy contact can change profile picture and accept friend requests The account remains inactive
Account appears on explore search results Memorialized account doesn’t appear on explore search results

Suggested Reading: Your Social Media Legacy: Pre-Planning On Facebook

As of yet, there have been no announcements made with any plans to integrate Facebook and Instagram accounts. We’d love to see a published roadmap for future development of more comprehensive pre-planning features for both death and incapacity.

What Options for Instagram Legacy Planning Do You Have?

No one can deny the huge role that social media plays in our lives. It’s where you store and share your memories with your loved ones. Many would argue that your digital identity is just as important as your real identity. Therefore, it requires protection.

Instagram is also a source of income, where you can monetize your account or run an Instagram shop. As such, you may want to predetermine which of your friends or family members will take over your account, look after your photos, videos and business, and access your funds.

Since Instagram is yet to provide a feature for pre-planning, the best way to get your account memorialized and passed on to your family is through a Social Media Will.

With a social media will:

  1. You can ask to be memorialized. That way, your photos and videos will be safe on your Instagram account for your loved ones to access for as long as Instagram remains in existence.
  2. You can specify how you want the income from your monetized account to be handled.
  3. You can choose to state if you want the account deleted after your death.
  4. You can craft a last post to be posted after your death.

Make your FREE Social Media Will today at Epilogue and protect your social afterlife.

Start My Social Media Will

Discover more Social Media Legacy resources:

Written By Sharon Hartung
Sharon Hartung, Captain (Ret’d), PEng, TEP, is the founder of Your Digital Undertaker®, which provides Digital Executor® webinars and consulting for advisors and clients on the tech management aspects of digital assets in estate planning. Sharon is the author of “Your Digital Undertaker”, “Digital Executor®: Unraveling the New Path for Estate Planning” and LexisNexis “Digital Asset Entanglement: Unraveling the Intersection of Estate Laws & Technology.” Sharon is a committee member on the STEP Digital Assets SIG. Twitter @Undertakertech and website: Your Digital Undertaker. The content in this publication is provided for general information only and is not intended to provide any advice or endorse/recommend the content contained in the publication. Digital Executor® Service Provider Scorecard used under license. ©Sharon Hartung 2022. All rights reserved.