Until now, when someone passed away, Facebook offered a basic memorialized account which was viewable, but could not be managed by anyone. By talking to people who have experienced loss, Facebook realized there is more they can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death.
Facebook recently launched a new feature that could help your loved ones through the grieving process in the event of your death. It's called a "Legacy Contact."
If you are a Facebook user, you may want to go into your account now and designate your Legacy Contact to manage your account when you pass away. Here is how it works when someone passes away:
- A friend or family members lets Facebook know by submitting a Memorialization Request here: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/651319028315841
- Once Facebook memorializes the account, the Legacy Contact can:
- Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)
- Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
- Update the profile picture and cover photo
You also may designate whether your Legacy Contact can download an archive of your social posts. Alternatively, you can tell Facebook that you prefer to have your account deleted upon your death.
For specific instructions about how to name a Legacy Contact, visit Facebook's newsroom at: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/02/adding-a-legacy-contact/
Of course, many state legislatures are currently wrestling with how to handle digital accounts after the user passes away.
Consequently, this issue might eventually be taken out of Facebook's hands entirely. Until then, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you make arrangements for your “digital assets” pending future legislation.
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Reference: Facebook Newsroom ( February 12, 2015) "Adding a Legacy Contact"