Estate Planning for Digital Assets is becoming a more important part of our estate planning. While most online accounts simply expire when you die, Facebook has recently incorporated some changes to your account so you can specify what happens when you die.
Until recently, loved ones of the deceased only had two choices:
- Keep the wall public so everyone could continue to post messages and thoughts on the wall, or
- Request to have the page “memorialized,” which meant the profile was no longer searchable or visible to those who were not already friends of the individual.
What Facebook did not allow to happen was for someone to manage the profile of the deceased owner without having the password. That just changed with the Facebook Legacy Contact feature. A Facebook user can now choose a “legacy contact.” The Legacy Contact can manage your account or delete the account after you pass away.
Facebook’s Updated Options and Release Stated:
Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to:
- Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline
- Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
- Update the profile picture and cover photo
If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private message.
Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.
As you plan for the handling of your digital assets after death, the Facebook Legacy Contact Feature is an important tool to mention during the process. By simply logging into your account and following the directions below, you can easily make your wishes for your Facebook account known.
Here’s how to utilize the new feature:
- Open Facebook settings.
- Choose Security Settings
- Select Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page.
- After choosing your legacy contact, you’ll have the option to send a message to that person.
We will continue to report to you as more companies start to address the digital assets and how licensed may be used after death.