What happens to my Facebook account if I pass away? – Authored by: Collin D. Dickey
Far too often, we see the situation where a deceased individual’s Facebook account is handled in a manner that his or her loved ones do not feel represents what the deceased would have wanted. This is one of the many reasons why digital assets and accounts, such as Facebook, are increasingly becoming a concern for individuals involved in the Estate Planning process.
Digital assets may include emails, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, gaming accounts, software licenses, social-network accounts, and blogs — just to name a few. In most situations, you are able to delegate the authority to handle these accounts upon your incapacity or death through a power of attorney document or trustee appointment. A trustee named in an estate plan may be given the authority to access, modify, archive, or delete your digital assets. However, estate planning for a Facebook account requires some additional measures.
What will happen if you simply do nothing, meaning there is no planning with regard to how your Facebook account will be handled when you pass away? When you are gone, your Facebook account will remain active indefinitely if Facebook is not properly notified of your death. This raises concerns regarding increased vulnerability to hacking and the account being used for dissemination of spam. Equally as important, without any planning, there is simply no way for anyone to have full control over what is posted to your account.
Even without any planning, your family members may still contact Facebook and request that your page be “memorialized.” To request that a Facebook page be memorialized, go to: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/234739086860192. While, memorializing the page may aid in preventing hacking, because you will already be gone, there still will be no guarantee regarding the manner in which your account is edited and monitored.
So what options do you have to properly plan for your Facebook account upon your death or incapacity? Facebook allows you to choose in advance whether your account should be memorialized or deleted all together when you are gone. Taking this step allows an individual who would like their account memorialized to appoint what Facebook calls a “legacy contact.” The “legacy contact” does in fact have the authority to control and monitor a decedent’s account, which provides added security with regard to posts to the account.
For a step by step process for making the discussed selections click in the top right of Facebook and select “Settings.” Then, click on “Manage Account.” For additional information on what the “legacy contact” can and cannot do, go to: https://www.facebook.com/help/1568013990080948.
When considering what will happen to your assets when you are gone, it is important not to forget those components of your estate that cannot actually be touched in the physical sense, but still require proper planning for to ensure that they will be handled as you wish.