As your loved ones create their Estate Plans, one thing they may be thinking about is their Digital Legacy and how they want to have it managed after they pass away. This includes choosing whether they want to pass on the responsibility of managing their Facebook account to someone they trust, or have their Digital Legacy removed. After considering what to do with one’s Facebook account after death, you might find yourself as the one appointed as the designated Legacy Contact in Facebook.
While you may be honored to receive this responsibility, you may not fully understand what it means for you and what your responsibilities may be. Here at Trust and Will, we want to help make you aware of what the task of becoming a Legacy Contact entails. That is why we have put together this article which will go over what a Digital Legacy is, what a Legacy Contact is on Facebook, and what your responsibilities and powers will be if you choose to accept to be someone’s Legacy Contact.
What is a Digital Legacy?
A Digital Legacy is any and all information about someone that is stored on the internet and that will be left behind after someone passes away. It is called your Digital Legacy, as it pertains to all digital data that will remain on the internet after you die including photos and videos, social media accounts, email accounts, any online websites you may own, and so much more.
A Digital Legacy is something people may not think about much on a daily basis but is something that could leave an impact after one’s death. If Digital Legacy plans are not defined within an Estate Plan prior to death, a person’s digital information will continue to live online with no one having any control over it. For some, this may be an uncomfortable scenario they would like to avoid.
What is a Legacy Contact on Facebook?
A Legacy Contact is a person that has been appointed to be in charge of taking care of one’s internet accounts after they pass away. However, a Legacy Contact in Facebook can only become in charge of accounts that have been memorialized. If the Facebook account is not memorialized, the Legacy Contact will have no power to manage the deceased’s Facebook account.
When someone has passed away, a Facebook account can either be deleted or memorialized. If it has been memorialized, it will become a place for family and friends to gather on the web to remember a friend or loved one. This includes viewing photos or stories of the deceased on that Facebook account. As a Legacy Contact, you will be in charge of the upkeep of the account once it has been memorialized.
Adding a Legacy Contact
In order to add a Legacy Contact to a Facebook account, the user will have selected the drop-down arrow at the top far right corner. From there, they went to “Settings & Privacy”, and clicked on “Settings”. Once in Settings, they were able to select the “Memorialization Settings'' option. From there, they had the option to add you, their Facebook friend, into the “Choose a Friend” drop-down menu. Then, they clicked “Add” to have you officially named as their “Legacy Contact”. Next, they may have selected “Send” which allowed Facebook permission to send you a notification naming you as that person’s Legacy Contact.
Removing and Editing a Legacy Contact
Facebook also allows the original user to easily change their appointed Legacy Contact at any time. They just needed to follow the same steps to get back to the Memorialization Settings page, as discussed above, and click “Remove”. If they wanted to change who they selected as their Legacy Contact, they had the option to add a new Facebook friend after removing the previous Legacy Contact. If someone should contact you telling you that they, not you, had been chosen to be the account’s Legacy Contact, the task will go to the person most recently named as the Legacy Contact.
Responsibilities if you are selected as the designated Legacy Contact
If you have been chosen as a Legacy Contact, it is important to note that you will not have access to log into the deceased’s person’s account, read any of their messages, remove friends from their list, or make friend requests. A Legacy Contact on Facebook is meant to be a position that allows you to oversee the deceased’s account, not run it as if it were a normal account. As explained within the Facebook Help Center, a Legacy Contact on Facebook will have the ability to:
Write a pinned post for the deceased’s profile (example: to share a final message on their behalf or provide information about a memorial service).
View posts, even if they were set in privacy to “Only Me”.
Decide who can see and who can post tributes if the memorialized account has an area for tributes.
Delete tribute posts.
Change who can see posts the deceased was tagged in.
Remove tags of the deceased that someone else posted.
Respond to new friend requests (example: old friends or family members who weren't yet on Facebook). *If you were added as a Legacy Contact after your loved one passed away, you won't be able to respond to new friend requests.
Update the deceased’s profile picture and cover photo.
Request the removal of the account.
Turn off the requirement to review posts and tags before they appear in the tributes section, if timeline review was turned on.
Download a copy of what was shared on Facebook, if this feature was turned on.
A Facebook Legacy Contact Can't:
Log into the deceased’s account.
Read their messages.
Remove any of their friends or make new friend requests.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
If you have been selected as the trusted Legacy Contact for someone you know, the appointment is both an honor and a responsibility to dutifully protect the integrity of the deceased person’s digital legacy on Facebook. But deciding how to handle one's Digital Legacy should be of concern to anyone who has a digital presence online. Naming a Legacy Contact in Facebook is best done within a person’s Estate Plan.
The process of creating an Estate Plan might seem complicated and costly, but it doesn't have to be. Here at Trust and Will, we’ve simplified the process of Estate Planning by offering online access to the important estate planning documents needed to protect and manage one’s assets, including digital assets. With state-specific documents available online, creating your comprehensive plan can be completed with ease, from the comfort of your own home. Get started today!