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

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YouTube what to do after death?

Our ever growing digital footprint (inc YouTube) is a new aspect to be deal with alongside traditional ‘probate’. 

Unlike some social media platforms, YouTube is one in which many content creators will have ‘monetized’ profiles.  Dealing with their account after death is not therefore simply a case of closing a profile, but also what happens to funds at that point, and moving forward?

Leaving aside (for a moment) the question of any funds held in a YouTube account, closing it should be quite simple.

Planning ahead

The ‘inactive account manager’ allows users to set out their wishes in terms of the account becoming inactive (ie inc following their passing).

Read more on Google support about ‘inactive account manager’.

Closing your YouTube account informally

An informal way of dealing with your YouTube channel (and other social media platforms) is simply making sure that your loved ones have login credentials, along with your wishes as regards what should happen.  Again, this assumes that the channel does not hold or generate income.

What is a Digital Will?

As one stop on from the above, the notion of a ‘digital will’ is becoming ever more talked about.  They are not set in law, nor are they legally binding on anyone.  Think of your digital will as being a cross between a ‘letter of wishes’ and an inventory of your online footprint.

The (obvious) practical challenge with a digital will is the idea of keeping it up to date.  Who wants to be constantly updating something in case they die?!  One school of thought to simplify this is to utilise a consolidated password record (eg Apple iOS) which should then automatically remain updated without having to manually update your passwords every time one changes!

What about any monetized funds in a YouTube account?

What is perhaps a little different about YouTube over other platforms is its ability to allow creators to monetize their content.  As we all know, this can include vast sums for the top creators.

So, a number of points arise.  And, they straddle the traditional financial side to probate, with the notion of digital estates and digital wills.

Our digital estate (if we did not monetize any aspect of our online footprint) is really just to close down our online presence, with perhaps memorialising those accounts that permit this.  The traditional side to probate deals with cash assets, paying Inheritance Tax, legacies, residuary estates, and so on.  There is a very strict legal protocol to all of this, that in most case will not apply to our digital estate, UNLESS there are funds held in particular platform – YouTube or otherwise.

Are YouTube funds liable to Inheritance Tax?

If you are UK domiciled, then yes – it is likely accrued funds would indeed form part of your estate at ‘date of death’.  Check out our articles on ‘how do you value assets for Probate’ and ‘what is Inheritance Tax (IHT)’.

In a practical sense, any monetized may already be sat outside of the account and so would be valued, for example, as part of a particular bank account.

Executors should however contact YouTube/Google on death to not only request any date of death balances of funds, but also for details of income to date of death for income tax purposes.  Income may continue to be generated post death, in which case the executors will likely need to disclose this in due course for the purposes of income tax.

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.

Free Legal Guide

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful.  Do please remember that it is just that – a guide.  And so, it should not be taken as legal advice.  If you need advice specific to your circumstances then do please reach out – our expert probate solicitors would love to help.  You can leave a comment below, call us, or email.  A big thank you from all at Team QLAW for visiting the home of all things legal!

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