Question: How can we have an online profile for a deceased team member deleted from LinkedIn?
Background: A deceased colleague of ours continues to be listed on LinkedIn, a site we frequently use in our business. As you can imagine, this reminder of our departed friend is upsetting to many of us.
Loraine’s Answer: I understand how difficult it is for your team to see this reminder of your colleague’s death.
Only someone who is authorized to act on behalf of your deceased team member can have the profile taken down. In many cases, this means the executor or administrator of your team member’s estate (also known as the “personal representative” of the estate). The personal representative of the estate will request to memorialize or close your colleague’s LinkedIn account, and will need to provide LinkedIn with a lot of information along with the request to close the account. The necessary information includes: the member’s full name, email address, and date of death; the URL to the individual’s LinkedIn profile; the executor’s relationship to the deceased; a certified copy of the member’s death certificate; and some kind of legal document that shows the personal representative’s authority to act for the estate, such as Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary. Once the request has been approved, the account will be hidden electronically. If the account is removed, the deceased member’s profile will no longer be visible or searchable on the site. Please note that having an account removed is not a quick process. Once an account is closed, it can take as long as three weeks or the account data, including the profile, to be completely removed from the site.
If you don’t know how to contact the executor of your team member’s estate, you can report to LinkedIn that the individual is deceased. You will need to show some proof of death, such as a link to an obituary. Eventually, LinkedIn may remove or memorialize the account.
Key Estate Planning Takeaway: As part of making an estate plan, you should put together information about how to deal with your various accounts, including social media accounts such as LinkedIn (in our firm, we often refer to this kind of information as a “letter of instructions”). This information should include instructions regarding whether you want such accounts to be deleted or memorialized, how to access the accounts, and who should handle such requests. For LinkedIn accounts, you may want to include this link to help your nominated executor act on your request.
This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo to questions posted on www.avvo.com. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.