What Happens To My Facebook Account When I Die?

November 21, 2016 by Miller Funeral & Cremation Services Staff  


If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s likely that it will only be a matter of time: You logon to Facebook to find a notification that it is a dear one’s birthday, and would you would like to wish them well. Your heart catches in your throat for a split second and a wave of sadness ripples through your body; your dear friend is actually among the dearly departed.


As you catch your breath and begin to scroll through your feed, you find a smattering of mutuals are, in fact, posting birthday wishes to your friend’s wall… And you wonder if you should too. But moreover, you wonder: What does happen to my Facebook account when I die?


Why It Matters…

For many of us, social media, and Facebook in particular, is the go-to resource to learn about what is happening with our friends and family. This makes Facebook a natural resource when it comes to letting the public know about the passing of a friend or colleague.


You should always make every attempt possible to let family and close friends know before making a death announcement on social media. No one wants to learn of their closest friends and family passing away on Facebook.


However, once immediate family and the inner-circle of friends are in the know, it is not uncommon – and largely expected – that there will be an announcement on Facebook. For many, this announcement is often coupled with an organized “event” for memorial services, wakes, and other ceremonies, so that the word can spread in a way most of us are accustomed to.


Facebook also offers a virtual space for friends and family across the world to share photos, memories, and other remembrances with one another. Obituaries can be shared, eulogies given, and – if desired – local memorial services can even be live streamed to the account for those who cannot be in attendance due to distance.


Once the immediacy and events have passed, however, you may wonder, “Well, now what?”


Ipso Post Facto

There are a few options available for your Facebook account, once someone has passed away.


Memorializing the account is often the most logical option, especially for those who were active on social media before their passing. When an account is memorialized, the account content remains as-is, and the wall remains open for friends of the deceased to share memories, photos, etc. Posts cannot be made to the page, even by the legacy contact, except to pin a post to the page with relevant details or a final message. The legacy contact can change the profile and cover images, however, as well as respond to friend requests and download a copy of your account to have offline.


For those who feel that having a posthumous Facebook page is not appropriate (for whatever reason), there are options available to have the contents downloaded and account deleted, as well.


Who Would Manage My Facebook Account When I Die?

Informally speaking, in the days immediately following a death, much of the business of posting announcements, sharing memorial information, and handling the “PR” is someone who has immediate access to the deceased’s account. This could be a spouse, friend, or family member – essentially anyone who has access to the account. Facebook may not exactly sanction this course of action, but it is certainly common just the same.


However, once the dust has settled, establishing a legacy contact is advised (see above). It’s best if the legacy contact is appointed by the deceased prior to death (though that is not always possible). In fact, you can actually establish your legacy contact yourself, ahead of time, through Facebook as a course of your estate planning.


Appoint A Digital Executor

Many of us joke about having a friend on tap to clear our browser history if something were to happen to us. And while that tongue-in-cheek designation is all well and good, legally appointing a digital executor as part of your estate plan is smart move for anyone living (or not living, as the case may be) in the digital world.


Much like a traditional executor, a digital executor ensures that your digital assets (emails, documents, photos, media files, social accounts, etc.) are managed in accordance with your final wishes. This person is more than just your legacy contact on Facebook (nor does he or she have to be your legacy contact at all), they are the person that will ensure that your wishes are executed with regard to your life’s digital collateral. This extends to your photos, document files, music and media, etc.


Having your digital ducks in a row is an often overlooked, yet increasingly important, aspect of estate planning. The staff at Miller Funeral Services understands that this is an emerging need for many individuals and families, and is happy to discuss what options you have for protecting your digital assets and making trusted referrals, as needed.

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