We have written about digital estate planning several times in this blog, so we were happy to see that Facebook has recently adopted a new digital estate planning policy that could help answer many of the previously unanswered questions surrounding the issue of what happens to social media accounts after the account owner dies. As part of its new policy, Facebook has established a “legacy contact” designation option that allows users to select a person who will have the ability to manage their Facebook accounts after they die.
Under the terms of the new Facebook policy, users can select who they want to serve as their legacy contact. The person who serves as a legacy contact will have the ability to address several important digital estate planning issues that had previously been left unaddressed by Facebook.
According to the new policy, the person selected as the legacy contact will have the ability to not only manage the deceased person’s Facebook account, but can also download any archived photos, save any posted, but not private, messages, and even delete the account permanently.
Setting up Legacy Contact
In order to choose a legacy contact, there are several steps you will have to take. First, you need to login to your Facebook account. Second, you need to select your account “Settings.” Under the settings menu, go to “Security > Legacy Contact.” Once you reach the legacy contact screen, you can then type in the name of the person you would like to serve as your chosen representative for purposes of managing your Facebook account after death. You can also choose to send your chosen legacy contact a message through Facebook, as well as choose whether you want that person to be able to archive your data or delete your account after you die.
Though the Facebook policy doesn’t specifically address who you should choose as your contact, you should take the time to consider who would best serve in this position. You cannot really force anyone to be your legacy contact, and you should choose someone who is responsible enough to be able to handle your account with the care and discretion you would like. Further, if there is any sensitive or personal information on your Facebook page that you do not want shared with others, you might want to consider deleting that from your account, or letting your legacy contact know what your wishes are.
Other Digital Estate Planning Concerns
While the updated Facebook policy makes digital estate planning a little easier, there are still many unanswered questions that you need to consider if you have yet to create a plan of your own. For example, while Facebook has adopted this new policy, other social media and Internet companies do not have similar provisions, and you might need to adopt specific tools to ensure that your digital assets are protected.