INSTAGRAM AFTER DEATH
To understand who controls someone’s IG account after they die, the first place to look is Instagram's tools and policies. Online platforms may provide tools to allow users to designate who would get access permissions after the user’s death. For example, Google’s Inactive Account Manager provides users the option to grant account access to "trusted contacts" after their death or other qualified inactivity. Unlike Google, IG currently does not offer a similar tool.
YOU CAN’T SELL YOUR ACCOUNT
TRANSFER REQUIRES CONSENT FROM INSTAGRAM
INSTAGRAM AS A DIGITAL ASSET
In the case that Instagram consents to a transfer (or much more likely, simply does not choose to interfere with a transfer), than the law governing digital assets prevails. If you want to bequeath (give it through a will) an IG account, a user will want to make sure to (1) specify a beneficiary to inherit the account within their will and (2) provide the password to the beneficiary in another estate planning document.
WHAT HAPPENS IF NO ONE HAS THE PASSWORD?
If the beneficiary or the person gifted an IG account is not provided with the password, the options are limited. Instagram explicitly states that they do not provide login information for deceased persons, as "it's always against [Instagram’s] policies for someone to log into another person's account.” So even if John Beneficiary is the sole heir of the account holder, he will locked out without the password. While inheriting an account may present multiple obstacles, IG has set up some tools for family members. Instagram does provide the ability for someone to memorialize or close an account of a deceased user. For the Instagram page to be closed completely, an immediate family member must provide proof of death. Similarly, an immediate family member must also provide proof of death for an account to be memorialized. A memorialized account is unique in that it exists as a "frozen" account, and no one — not even family members — can gain access to it.
For more information on digital asset planning, check out our interview with Professor Naomi Cahn.