What happens to your Facebook account when you die?

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What happens to your Facebook account after death

Facebook has provision to ‘memorialise’ the profile of a loved one that has passed. 

A relatively new aspect to probate for executors to deal with is what to do with social media accounts/profiles (often referred to as our ‘digital estate‘).  Here we take a look at how the deceased’s Facebook profile can be dealt with, and what options there are.

The simple answer to the question (what happens to Facebook when you die) is nothing – unless you and/or your executors take action.  However, what is extremely helpful is that you can plan ahead, and let Facebook know (in your privacy settings) what you might like to happen in the event of you passing.

What are the choices for my Facebook profile when I die?

At the time of writing, there are two main options for the account of a deceased Facebook user:

  1. Memorialise the profile
  2. Delete the profile

And, the first thing to do is think about what setting you would like in this regard (ie don’t leave it for someone else to sort after your death.  You should visit your profile settings/privacy.  Here, you can choose to either have your account deleted or memorialised in the event of your passing.  And, you can also appoint a ‘Legacy Contact’.

What is a Memorialised Facebook profile?

This allows friends and family to gather at the memorialised profile and share memories and so on (subject to privacy settings).  The profile will be marked with the word ‘Remembering’ to denote that it is now a memorialised profile.

Memorialised profiles do not currently appear in suggestions for people that the deceased knew.  Content that the deceased had shared on Facebook stays there, and remains visible to those it was shared with.

What is a Facebook Legacy Contact?

A Legacy Contact is the person you appoint in the privacy setting of your Facebook profile to allow them to access to your profile in the event of your passing.

This is an interesting concept from the perspective of traditional ‘probate administration’. You may also want to consider having a ‘digital will’ or including instructions about your Facebook account in a letter of wishes.

Traditional Probate administration vs social media?

Traditionally, everything we ‘owned’ was evidenced and administered via paper – bank accounts, shares, houses, etc etc.  And, those things would all be deal with by our executors and typically only after probate has been granted. Those things compromise our residuary estate.

The dawn of the internet and social media has presented a whole new dimension about what needs to be done when someone dies.  Whilst not of monetary value, social media accounts are nonetheless a very personal footprint of our lives that exist (potentially) for the whole world to see.  And so, just like cash assets, ‘something’ needs to happen to us when we die.

What social media (Facebook included) allows us to do is plan what happens to this valuable and very personal ‘asset’ before we die, and it is not therefore something that is dependent on executors and/or the grant of probate.  We are in effect able to define ourselves what happens during our lifetime, leaving a relatively simple process for loved ones to deal with our social media ‘assets’ quickly and simply when we die.

It perhaps begs the question as to whether there is something to be learned from how social media accounts are dealt with in the broader process of probate administration?

Visit the Facebook help pages to learn more.

Dealing with other social media accounts

Read more about what needs to/can happen to happen by clicking on each one below:

  • Facebook – they do provide a facility for memorialising the profile, as well as nominating a legacy contact during your lifetime.
  • Twitter/X – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • Snapchat – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • TikTok – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • Instagram – they do provide a facility for memorialising the profile.
  • Pinterest – there is no option to memorialise the profile, just close it.
  • YouTube – there is no opportunity to memorialise the profile.

Expert Probate Solicitors

We hope you’ve found this guide about Facebook when we die helpful.  If it hasn’t quite answered your query, do take a look around our website – we have loads of related information and facts.  Do remember that this is NOT intended to be legal advice, nor should the article (or any comments left) be taken as such.  But, our expert probate solicitors are here to help you with anything at all you need advice on that’s wills, trusts, and probate related.  So do reach out to us.  You can leave a comment, call, or email – we’d love to hear from you!

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