As social media has become engrained in our everyday lives, the question of what happens to these accounts after the accountholder dies has taken on importance. Here’s what happens to your Facebook page is you die – and why you might want to take action now.

Two Options for Facebook Profiles

Facebook currently provides two options for what can happen to a Facebook profile after the accountholder dies.

  • Option 1: The profile can become memorialized. The word “Remembering” appears with the person’s name to mark it as a memorialized account. Posts that you have shared remain on Facebook and are visible to the same audience as before your death. Depending on the settings, friends may be able to continue sharing memories to the timeline. No one will be able to log into the memorialized account, but a legacy contact will be able to manage it.
  • Option 2: The account is deleted. All of the posts that you have shared disappear from Facebook.

Take Action Now to Control What Happens to Your Facebook Profile

To decide whether your Facebook profile will be deleted or memorialized, take the following steps:

  • Go to your main profile and click your profile photo in the top right corner.
  • Select Settings & Privacy.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Accounts Center.
  • Select Personal details.
  • Select Account Ownership and Control.
  • Select Memorialization.
  • Choose to either Memorialize Account or Delete After Death, depending on your preferences.

If you choose to have your account memorialized, name a legacy contact to manage the memorialized account.

  • Go to your main profile and click your profile photo in the top right corner.
  • Select Settings & Privacy.
  • Select Settings.
  • Under General Profile Settings, select Memorialization Settings.
  • In the Choose a Friend field, type in your friend’s name. Click Add.
  • Click Send to let your friend know you have chosen them as your legacy contact.

How to Manage a Loved One’s Facebook Account After Death

If a loved one of yours has passed away, you can contact Facebook to let them know so the account can be memorialized. You can also request for the account to be removed from Facebook.

If you are the legacy contact, you will be able to manage the account. However, Facebook will not give you login information, and you will not be able to log into the account.

Other Social Media Sites

While Facebook has developed clear policies to memorialize or delete accounts after the accountholder’s death, other social media sites may have very different policies – or no policies at all.

Instagram shares the same parent company as Facebook (Meta), so it’s not surprising that Instagram offers a similar memorialization option.

X (previously Twitter) says that the company will work with verified immediate family members to have an account deactivated after the death of the accountholder. To verify this, you will need to provide documentation, including the death certificate and a copy of your ID. X will also work with someone who has been granted Power of Attorney to deactivate an account if the accountholder becomes incapacitated.

For other social media sites, contact support to see if the account can be deactivated. Be prepared to show documentation both of the death and of your relationship to the deceased.

Why Social Media Is an Important Part of Estate Planning

There are two reasons why people should plan for what will happen to their social media accounts after they die.

The first reason has to do with security. If a deceased person’s account is allowed to remain open, it is vulnerable to hackers who may try to access the account and use it to spam and scam other people. By deactivating the account, this security risk is eliminated.

The second reason has to do with the social purpose of social media. People use social media to stay in contact with a wide range of contacts, including close friends and family as well as old friends they have seen for years, people they only know online, and casual acquaintances. Some of these people may be unaware of the person’s death and may be worried when they suddenly stop posting. Facebook’s memorialization option handles this nicely. On other social media sites, it’s become common for a loved one with login information to make a post announcing the accountholder’s death; however, this is only possible if the accountholder shared the login information.

You can avoid problems and uncertainties by planning ahead for your social media accounts:

  • Decide what you want to happen to your accounts. Make this part of your estate planning and make sure your loved ones know your wishes.
  • For Facebook and Instagram accounts, choose a legacy contact if you want your account memorialized.
  • For other social media sites, consider whether you want to share your password with a trusted loved one so they can make an announcement using your account after you die. Otherwise, they may only be able to deactivate the account without posting a message.

What happens to a Facebook page after a person dies is just one of the estate planning issues that many people overlook. Do you need help with your estate plan? Contact Skinner Law.


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