Closing & accessing accounts

Local accounts
 
To close local utility accounts such as Belco, BTC, cable TV, cell phones and internet service, contact the customer service department of each company to check what documentation is needed. The following documents will usually suffice:
 
  • Certified copy of the death certificate. You can order additional copies of the death certificate directly from the Registry General website .**
  • Proof of your identity (passport, driving licence, etc) and releationship to the deceased (birth certificate or marriage certificate).

Any outstanding balances will usually need to be paid when you close the account. You can claim the money back from the deceased’s estate when probate has been granted (see Wills, Estates & Probate). Depending on the company, they may be prepared to wait until that has been granted if you are in financial difficulty.
 
Bank accounts, life insurance and pensions cannot be closed or settled without a Grant of Probate (see Wills, Estates & Probate), although local banks will immediately freeze accounts and credit cards on production of a death certificate.
 
Some accounts which name a beneficiary – such as a company pension – can usually be settled with just a death certificate and proof of the beneficiary’s identity.  Note that while life insurance claims will usually be met in full, accident insurance will not pay out in the case of suicide.

**If the death certificate is not yet available, the Coroner's Office (247-1356) can supply a letter on behalf of the Senior Coroner identifying the deceased. This letter can then be presented to close most utility accounts. However it will not assist with insurance policies or bank accounts where money is involved.

   
Social media and online accounts
 
Dealing with the person’s online accounts after a suicide can be distressing and frustrating. A suicide leaves many unanswered questions and survivors (and the Police) will search through whatever they can access for any insight into why it happened.
 
If the person was a very active user of social media, friends are likely to continue to post messages of condolence, or personal memories for some time. This can be a comfort and you may wish to leave the account online for a period. Facebook, for example, will allow you to have a user’s account secured as a memorialised page for friends to post to. 
 
On the other hand, if the person posted distressing messages, photos or videos before their death, you will want to close the account down as soon as possible. At the very least, it is a good idea to get some control to prevent an account being hacked and used by someone else. Few things are more distressing than receiving emails or messages months or years later from the account of a dead loved one.
 
However, if you do not know the login and password details for the person’s phone, computer or device, and for their various apps and online accounts, it will be virtually impossible to retrieve anything. 

Major online websites and social networks are understandably protective about users’ privacy and while some may give you access to the contents of an account; others will only let you close or delete it. In most cases, a certified copy of the death certificate and a link to an obituary is usually enough to be able to close the account. However, some companies may insist on a court order authorising you as the legal representative of the deceased.  

If you can get access to the person's e-mail then it is often possible to reset the password for accounts like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and gain access.  Some will also require phone verification so it’s a good idea to keep the person’s cell phone number active until you have exhausted all possibilities.

If the person backed up their phones to iCloud (Apple iPhone) or Android/Google and you have the login details, the phone and any data can be fully restored. If the phone or device stores photos and videos on a memory card, then recovering them should be relatively easy.

For technical advice, contact a local computer or phone repair shop like iRepair (297-6464).
    
 
 
Bermuda mobile phone, text and e-mail accounts
 
In the case of Bermuda internet and cell phone providers, they will usually close an account on production of a death certificate or a death notification clipping from the daily newspaper’s obituary section.
 
If the deceased had a local e-mail account (such as Logic, Northrock, TBINet, Transact)  you will first need to provide the Internet Service Provider (ISP) with a copy of the death certificate to access contents of their email account,. Because they are legally bound to protect their customers’ privacy, ISPs will only provide login information to the executor of the will. If there is no will, the information will be given to the next of kin, provided they can produce a birth certificate or other legal document proving that they are a blood relation.
 
Phone companies are not legally obliged to provide access to a deceased person’s phone records unless ordered to by a police warrant. Note that cell phone companies do not keep records of text messages – just the incoming and outgoing numbers called.

 
 
Other useful online resources
 
Apple and iTunes
 
Unless you have the person’s Apple login and ID, you have practically zero chance of recovering anything from a person’s Apple or iTunes account. Apple also claim that they physically do not have the capability to unlock the password for a person’s iPhone or iPad.
 
The best they can do is access a person’s iCloud account and if there is anything backed up –like photos and documents – they can transfer it to a designated iCloud account. To do this, Apple require a copy of the death certificate and a U.S. court order authorising you as the legal representative of the deceased. Apple are usually very unsympathetic to the fact that you live in Bermuda and not the U.S. You can try having the executor or your lawyer send them a letter and a copy of the Grant of Probate but don’t expect a positive response.  Apple will, however, close an account and delete all content if you provide them with a copy of a death certificate.
 
For more information: support.apple.com/icloud or contact   iTunesStoreSupport@apple.com directly   
 
 
LifewireRegularly updated links and information on closing Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Yahoo, and PayPal accounts.
 
Everplans  -  How to manage major email accounts after a death - Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and iCloud.