Silicon Valley Estate Planning Journal

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Have You Ever Wondered What Happens to Your Facebook Account After You Have Passed Away?

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If no one contacts Facebook to alert the company of that you have passed, your profile will remain active indefinitely. Facebook doesn’t delete inactive accounts without notification.

Facebook has established three options for your account when you have passed away:

1) Memorializing the account, 2) Removing the account and 3) Designation of a Legacy Contact

Memorializing the Account:

Facebook’s policy on death is to turn your profile into a memorial, “A memorial is a place where people can save and share their memories of those who’ve passed.” Facebook removes all sensitive information from your profile, turns off status updates and changes the profile setting so that only friends can find the profile and post information to your wall. This lets your friends and family members to visit your profile and use it as a place of grieving and healing. No one will be able to log into your account in the future.

To memorialize your account, a friend or family member must fill out a Facebook online form located in the Facebook Help Center to report that you have passed away. Within that form, they must state your name, when you passed away and proof of death, which they can include a link to an obituary or news report confirming the death or a copy of the person’s death certificate.

Removing the Account:

Removal of an account entails the complete removal of your profile data from the Facebook platform. (However Facebook holds the legal right to sustain the user’s credentials for up to 90 days after request of deletion).

To remove your account after you have passed away, only a verified immediate family member may request the removal of your account from Facebook. This can be completed by filling out a Facebook online form located in the Facebook Help Center. Within that form, they must state your name, when you passed away and proof of death, which they can include a link to an obituary or news report confirming your death or a copy of your death certificate.

 Legacy Contact:

On February 12, 2015, Facebook announced that it has added a third option. Facebook will now allow you to designate a friend or family member to be your Facebook estate executor and manage your account when you have passed away. The Legacy Contact can make one last post on your behalf after Facebook has verified your death.  Your Legacy Contact can respond to new friend requests, update the cover photo and profile, and archive your Facebook posts and photos.

To designate a Facebook “Legacy Contact”, go into “Settings”, choose “Security”, and then choose “Legacy Contact” at the bottom of the page. Choose your Legacy Contact from your friends list. Choose the options you want your Legacy Contact to have. The system will offer an option to send a message to that person.

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