Probate – What happens to your Microsoft account when you die?

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What happens to your Microsoft account when you die?

Dealing with our ‘digital estate’ is something relatively new to the probate process. 

Our ‘digital footprint’ is now likely to be wide and varied.  And like so many other online accounts and profiles, someone who passes away is very likely to have some form of account with Microsoft.

Do you have to close a Microsoft account?

No, you don’t ‘have to’ close a Microsoft account when someone dies.  A Microsoft account will in any event ‘expire’ after 2 years of inactivity.

Microsoft deal very helpfully with this in their help pages – Accessing Microsoft services when someone has died

The help pages (link above) also very helpfully point out the obvious in that a member of your family can access the account after your passing if they have the login credentials.  This is akin to the notion of a ‘digital will’ (see below).

Access to your Microsoft Account(s)

If you have left login details with loved ones, they can simply access the account and close it as you would have otherwise done yourself.  Microsoft explain how to do this in their guide on How to close your Microsoft account.

Stop any Microsoft Subscriptions

Even without direct access to an account, executors can indirectly stop the account by simply freezing the deceased’s bank accounts (and therefore any subscriptions paid to Microsoft for Office or otherwise.

What if my Executors need access to my Microsoft account?

If your executors need access to your Microsoft account(s), but don’t have login credentials, then Microsoft will generally provide this subject to their service agreement/privacy policy, and of course also subject to you producing appropriate evidence that you are entitled to gain access to the deceased’s account.  In the UK, this is likely to be by producing (amongst other things) the death certificate, and the official grant of probate.

Historically, bank statements were a useful source of information for executors to see what assets there might be (eg seeing share dividend income coming in), and equally see what subscriptions existed for outgoings.  Similarly now, access to emails may prove useful through the probate administration period to unearth assets, liabilities, subscriptions, and so on.

Can a Digital Will deal with my Microsoft account?

Digital wills are quite the buzz around the subject of probate.  Unlike a ‘real will’, they have no real basis in law, nor is there a prescribed format in which they must appear.  So, what are they?  And what do they do?

What is a Digital Will?

A digital will is a cross between a ‘letter of wishes’, and an inventory.  It is intended to provide your executors with a list of all of your social media and online accounts, and for each:

  • access credentials; and
  • instructions – on what you would like doing with each profile/account

What should a Digital Will look like?

Unlike real wills, there is no prescribed format for digital wills, or any protocol to follow as regards execution requirements.  A digital will is not legally binding, and is simply intended to provide practical help to your executors.  It can be as simple as table.

> Read more about digital wills

Dealing with other social media accounts

Read more about what needs to/can happen to happen by clicking on each one below:

  • Facebook – they do provide facility for memorialising the profile, as well as nominating a legacy contact during your lifetime.
  • Twitter/X – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • Snapchat – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • TikTok – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • Instagram – they do provide facility for memorialising the profile.
  • Pinterest – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • YouTube – there is no opportunity to memorialise the profile.

Free Probate Guide

We hope that you found this article helpful.  Please take some time to have a look around our site where you’ll find hundreds of guides on probate, employment, wills, lasting powers of attorney and much more.  Do remember, they are just guides, and should NOT be taken as legal advice specific to you.  That said, our expert team of solicitors are here to help if you do want personal advice.  So do reach out by leaving a comment below, emailing us, or calling.  A big thank you for all at Team QLAW!

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