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I'm starting a business with a friend where we plan to automate the process of closing social media accounts, bank accounts, etc. on behalf of deceased individuals. Looking into this further, some of these websites require "proof that you are an immediate family member or executor for account removal." As a business, we need to be in the latter category. What is required to be an executor? Do we have to be a part of the will for each deceased individual, or is there an alternative?

  • Given the answer provided below, maybe your business could focus on the technical and administrative aspects of the removal rather than the functional. Your clients would provide you with the contact information of their executor, lawyer, and some close family. You would in turn give business cards that go along with the will and are given to people your client trusts. Upon their death, you work with the executor to prepare death notices for social platforms and maybe do a bit of digging to see if any new accounts were created between your hire date and the date of death. – Brian R Feb 19 at 17:15
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Executors and Administrators

The executor of an estate is the person(s) named by the testator in their will. The executor is the legal representative of the deceased and is responsible for winding-up their affairs and distributing the estate's assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will. The executor will apply to the court for a "grant of probate" which gives them the legal authority (and protection) to act.

If a person dies without a will (intestate) then the person who fulfills this role is called the administrator. An administrator is appointed by the court by their issuing "Letters of Administration". The administrator is responsible for winding-up the deceased's affairs and distributing the estate's assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the law.

Either role can be filled by any legal person which means an individual or a body corporate (company). They have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries and are legally liable if they screw things up.

Your business

Great idea!

Unfortunately, with the current state of the law in most parts of the world its a non-starter. An executor holds a position of extreme personal and legal trust - they are the person that the deceased trusts to do the right thing by everyone they leave behind. I'm sure that you are trustworthy people but I (and most people) are going to want their executor to be someone like a spouse, sibling or child with whom they have familial ties, a close personal friend or a government public trustee.

At the same time, banks, insurance companies etc. will not deal with anyone but the trustee (executor or administrator) and usually not until probate has been granted. They will also require that any funds be paid into a bank account set up by the trustee in their name in trust for the deceased unless the amounts are trivial.

Ownership of social media accounts is a grey area of the law at present - they will not release passwords except to legally authorized representatives and sometimes not even then.

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