As we reported in Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets, the law is rapidly developing at the intersection of death and social media. Facebook has announced it will now enable users to direct the disposition their accounts. Other platforms are likely to follow suit.

Facebook users can now plan what happens to their account at their death. The options include: choosing a “legacy contact” to manage the account, deleting your account permanently after death, or keeping your account as it is. Previously, family or friends had to notify Facebook that a user had died. Upon verifying the death, Facebook would “memorialize” the account, meaning the account could be viewed but it could not be edited or managed.

Under the new system, the legacy contact may make one last post on your behalf when you die, respond to new friend requests, update your cover photo and profile, and archive your Facebook posts and photos. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the deceased or see the deceased’s private messages.

Follow these steps to designate a Facebook legacy contact:

  • On the right side of your Facebook page, click on the downward-facing arrow to show the drop-down menu. Click on “Settings.”
  • Choose “Security,” then “Legacy Contact” at the bottom of the page.
  • Choose your legacy contact from your friends list. Choose the options you want your legacy contact to have.
  • You will be offered an option to send a message to your selected legacy contact.

If you have questions about planning for your digital or non-digital assets, please contact a member of the Stafford Rosenbaum Trust and Estates team.

Coauthored by Holly J. Wilson and Eileen M. Kelley.

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