There are many ways that we can prepare for the future. We know that we should make sure our life insurance is up to date and disclose our last wishes and final plans to our loved ones. But some aspects of planning for what's to come can be easy to overlook.
If something were to happen to you, do you have a plan for your online accounts? While you may include your bank and retirement accounts when creating or updating your Will, it's important not to overlook your social media accounts. Many apps and services include a Legacy Contact feature to help you plan for the future of your accounts when you're no longer in front of the screen.
What is a Legacy Contact?
A Legacy Contact is a person you choose to manage your account after you've passed away. When an account is memorialized, a Legacy Contact gains access to certain parts of your account and will be able to make decisions about what happens to it and its content.
Having a Legacy Contact is not the same as giving someone your password. A Legacy Contact cannot log into your account. Based on the app and your settings and permissions, a Legacy Contact cannot access all areas of your account, keeping some private information that way for good.
Accounts with Legacy Contacts
Let’s explore how the three biggest internet companies today use Legacy Contacts. We’ve seen three different tech and social media brands roll out similar features: Facebook, Instagram, and Apple. What are each of them like and how do they differ?
The first to make Legacy Contacts a regular user feature was Facebook in 2015. Ever the innovators, Facebook allows for a Legacy Contact to effectively oversee your account and who has access to it.
With Facebook, a Legacy Contact can:
Write a pinned post from your account. A Legacy Contact may write a post on your behalf to let your friends and followers know what happened and share memorial service information.
Manage tribute posts. When news of someone's death becomes "Facebook Official," folks from all areas of their life often feel compelled to publicly memorialize them. A Legacy Contact can decide who may post tribute posts and who can see them. They can also delete tribute posts.
Update your profile picture and cover photo. A Legacy Contact may choose to update your profile picture or cover photo to a memorialized photo or piece of art.
A Legacy Contact cannot:
Read your messages. Sure, Facebook may keep you connected to your family, but it's also a place for some deep friendship bonding. If you've had some particularly sentimental conversations on Facebook Messenger that you'd rather your Legacy Contact not get to read, don't worry. A Legacy Contact cannot access or read your direct messages.
Make new friend requests or delete friends. A Legacy Contact can respond to new friend requests on your behalf. If someone tries to add you as a friend after your account is memorialized, your Legacy Contact can accept or deny that request. However, they cannot add new friends from your account. They also cannot delete any of your existing friends.
A Facebook Legacy Contact can also request the removal of your account after your death. Though, if you decide to have your account deleted after your death, you may forego choosing a Legacy Contact and request that your account be deleted after you pass away via your settings.
While under the same Meta umbrella as Facebook, Instagram does not have a Legacy Contact feature. Rather, Instagram allows an immediate family member, next of kin, or Executor of their Estate to submit a request to memorialize a deceased person's Instagram account.
Memorialized Instagram accounts have a "Remembering" tag next to the person's name at the top of their profile. All their content, including photos and videos, will remain on Instagram and visible to its intended audience. Memorialized accounts no longer appear in the Explore tab.
No one can log into a memorialized Instagram account. Additionally, no changes can be made to any posts, comments on posts, profile picture, followers, or privacy settings.
An immediate family member or Executor may also request the deletion of an account with proof of your death, including an obituary or death certificate.
Apple made headlines more recently for their Legacy Contact feature for iPhones and iOS, but the enthusiasm from its user base has been palpable.
A Legacy Contact is the most secure way to give a spouse, family member, or trusted friend access to your personal Apple information and digital files.
Apple introduced Legacy Contacts starting in iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, and macOS 12.1. A Legacy Contact inherits photos, text messages, notes, apps, and other information. Though passwords and payment information is not accessible to Legacy Contacts.
Choosing the Right Legacy Contact
Just as choosing the perfect person to inherit a deeply personal item can take time and consideration, you don't want to make just anyone a Legacy Contact on your online accounts.
A Legacy Contact should be trusted, first and foremost. Social media is a personal space. In many cases, it is one of the most personal aspects of our lives. The person you name as your Legacy Contact should be someone you trust to have power over the face, name, and reputation you leave behind.
Estate Planning: Don't Forget Your Digital Assets
Having a Legacy Contact set up on the accounts you have that support them doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't include those accounts in your Estate Plan. Legacy Contacts are just one part of a complete contingency plan for the future.
You can include explicit instructions for how to handle online accounts and digital assets in your customized plan. That way, the Executor of your Estate or the Beneficiary of your account information can take control of your online accounts, fulfilling any last wishes you have for them. Additionally, Facebook removes pages managed by a sole administrator if that person's account is memorialized. Adding a second trusted administrator to that account or designating one after your death may help save your page from deletion.
You can create a plan with us online in as little as 20 minutes, and we’ll help you every step of the way so you can help protect the online content you've worked hard on and accomplish other important financial goals. Get started today!