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What Happens to My Facebook Account When I Die?

Facebook has over 1.65 billion monthly active users and is, by far, the most actively used social media platform worldwide. What most people don’t know is that your Facebook profile, as well as many other forms of digital assets, become part of your estate after you pass. So, what happens to your Facebook profile after you’re no longer here?

Facebook actually as one of the most common-sense policies for dealing with profiles of deceased individuals. There are essentially two options:

1. Appoint a Legacy Contact

Facebook allows users to appoint someone on their Friends list to act as their Legacy Contact – and that person will be allowed to pin a post on your Timeline after your death, like a funeral announcement or a formal message from the family.
The contact is not allowed to actually take control of your profile or read your private messages, but they’ll be able to respond to new friend requests, update your cover and profile photos, and archive your Facebook posts and photos so they’re never lost.

So, how do you appoint a Legacy Contact? Go to Settings, Security, and click on Legacy Contact. You’ll be able to select one of your existing Facebook friends. You can also craft a pre-written message to the Legacy Contact (you can edit it, don’t worry) that gives them some guidance.

2. Memorialize or Terminate the Account, or Just Leave It

Prior to Facebook implementing the Legacy Contact policy in 2015, profiles could only be “memorialized,” deleted or left unchanged after someone reported the death. Memorializing a profile freezes the account, which takes it out of search results and public notifications like birthdays, and can be viewed only by the user’s friends.
Your family essentially just contacts Facebook, notifies them that you have passed and provides them with a copy of the death certificate, and chooses what should happen to the account. Facebook does the rest. This option is more restrictive and does not allow your profile to really live on, in the same sense that it can with the Legacy Contact.
Facebook profiles often act as memorials for people who have passed, but the more important aspect of preserving something like a Facebook account is the ability to archive posts and photos, things that your family will be able to go back to in times of grief.
While they’re not exactly tangible, digital assets are just as important as physical assets when it comes to estate planning. Make sure your affairs are in order and your digital assets are accounted for. Go to Facebook today and appoint a Legacy Contact.

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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