One small part of digital estate planning has gotten a little bit easier. This past month Facebook has unveiled its new Legacy Contact feature, allowing current account holders to select a family member or friend to manage their account after they have passed on. Legacy Contacts will have the ability to pin a post to the deceased's timeline (such as a final message or service information), respond to new friend requests, and update the profile picture. While setting up a Legacy Contact, a user may also choose to allow them to archive their data. This will allow a Legacy Contact to download all shared posts, photos, videos, and information entered into the about section of a profile. The feature also ensures the account holders privacy; as the Legacy Contact will not be able to log into the departed's account, read messages, remove friends, or change past posts or photos.
Prior to this new feature, gaining control of a loved one's profile was difficult. The only way a family member or friend was able to access a departed's account was if they provided a family member or friend with updated log-in information prior to passing. Even in those cases, by using that information the next of kin may have entered into a legally grey area by potentially violating Facebook's Terms & Policies by accessing an account that was not their own. While this added feature creates a means of managing a deceased's profile, Facebook still requires a Memorialization Request to be filled out and approved before granting a Legacy Contact managing powers. The Memorialization Request can prove to be troublesome to some family members as you often must provide proof of passing, such as a death certificate or obituary.
Once an account has been Memorialized , "Remembering" will now be displayed next to the account holder's name, friends can still post on their timeline, and all previously made posts will remain visible. Additionally, a memorialized account will no longer show up in public places such as the Friend Suggestion section, Birthday Reminders, and Ads. You can read more about a Memorialized Account on Facebook's Help Page.
Please note, that once an account has been Memorialized the account can no longer be logged into. If you or a loved one has specific instructions on how they, or you, wish to handle a Facebook account, do not submit the Memorialization Request until you have consulted Facebook's Terms & Policies section.
If you would like to use the Legacy Contact feature, head to the settings section of your Facebook account. Select the Security tab on the left hand of the screen, and it will be the last option in the center of the page. After setting your Legacy Contact you will be prompted to either send them a message now notifying them they have been selected, or you can skip this option by clicking Not Now. You may then choose to allow your Legacy Contact to download a copy of your shared content. Under this same section, you can also identify if you wish your account to be deleted after you pass away. After your death, Facebook will permanently delete your account.
Facebook has stated they may be adding additional features and controls to the Legacy Contact section, make sure to follow our blog to stay up to date with any changes.