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What Happens to Your Facebook Account When You Die?

If you’re active on social media, Facebook probably plays a prominent role in your life. And now, social media can even play a role in your afterlife.  

Because of our interconnectedness through social media, estate planning has evolved to take into account more than just your tangible assets. Your digital assets are looked at as well, such as cryptocurrency, websites, and social media accounts. Though social media may seem trivial compared to the rest of your personal property, a Facebook account can function as a virtual diary of your daily life, making it a part of your legacy—and one you’ll may want to protect. 

Since social media is so new, there are very few state laws governing how your Facebook account should be handled upon your death. In light of this, Facebook itself is in nearly total control of what happens to your profile after you die. Without proper planning, your post-mortem Facebook presence can be harmful to the loved ones you leave behind. Since roughly 8,000 Facebook users die every day, the company has created a few options for dealing with your account once you’re gone. While it’s possible for you to take care of this on your own, many people are working with me during their Estate Planning to include digital assets into their overall estate plan to ensure their legacy is properly preserved and protected. 

Here are three options for what you can do with your Facebook account when you die:

1. Nothing

Unless Facebook is notified of your death, it assumes you’re still alive, and your profile remains active indefinitely. While this might not seem like a big deal, your profile will continue to be included in Facebook searches, People You May Know suggestions, and birthday reminders. Your friends and family may not want to be constantly reminded of your absence, and even worse, ex-friends and/or trolls will be able to post potentially hurtful messages on your timeline. To shield your loved ones from this kind of thing, you should go with one of the other options.

2. Have the account deleted

You can notify Facebook that you’d like to have your account permanently removed from its servers upon your passing. Alternatively, a friend, family member, or your executor can make the same request after your death. This will completely delete your profile and all of its associated content from Facebook for good.  

Additionally, one of these individuals can request that your account’s content be downloaded and saved before the profile is deleted. Content that’s eligible for download includes wall posts, photos, videos, profile info, events, and your friend list. However, Facebook will not allow any third-party to access or download your personal messages or login information. 

3. Memorialize the account

In 2009, Facebook began allowing accounts of the deceased to be “memorialized” at the request of a friend or family member. Once an account has been memorialized, only confirmed friends can see the profile or find it in a search. Your memorialized profile will no longer appear in friend suggestions, nor will anyone receive birthday updates or other account notifications.

When your account is memorialized, the word “Remembering” will be added next to your name on your profile. Depending on your privacy settings, friends and family members can post content and share memories on your timeline. A memorialized account is locked, so its original content cannot be altered or removed, even if an individual has your login info. 

In 2015, Facebook created a new policy that allows you to designate a family member or friend as a “legacy contact” to manage your memorialized account. This contact will be allowed to pin a final message to the top of your timeline, announcing your death or providing funeral information. The contact can also respond to new friend requests and update your cover and profile photos. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as you or see any of your private messages. 

Preserve your legacy

Since social media and other digital property are such a large part of our lives, you should make sure when creating and updating your estate plan we discuss ensuring your digital assets are protected. I can help you name a digital executor, who can quickly and easily manage your Facebook account and other social media upon your death. I can also help you inventory all of your other digital assets and make certain they pass to your loved ones seamlessly.  

For the remainder of the year, Legal Mama is also offering our new clients complimentary, professional video recordings to share your values, stories, and life lessons with the loved ones you leave behind! This is a very special holiday offer and we can't wait for you to take advantage of it! You are more than your assets to your loved ones, so we want to make sure we capture every ounce of that to be passed down! 


Today's article touches on how our membership options once you finish your planning can help you keep your plan up-to-date. Membership also offers loads of perks like unlimited communication on your legal needs and more. Just one more way Legal Mama goes above and beyond as your Personal Family Lawyer for Life!


Click the photo to learn about my unique planning process, which starts with a Family Wealth Planning Session:

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This article is a service of Sarah Breiner, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. What is a Personal Family Lawyer®? A lawyer who develops trusting relationships with families for life.

You can begin by contacting Sarah today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session. 


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