Many families overlook the task of deciding what to do with their deceased family member’s social media accounts. Some family members choose to keep their loved one’s accounts active, while others do not want the stress of yearly birthday reminders or take the risk that their loved one’s account gets hacked.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Happens to a Facebook Account When Someone Dies?
- How to Access a Deceased Loved One’s Facebook Account If You’re a Legacy Contact
- How to Access a Deceased Loved One’s Facebook Account if You’re Not a Legacy Contact
You can’t point to one right or wrong way to handle this situation. However, members of the immediate family should decide what to do. Regardless of what you choose, you may need to know how to gain access to a deceased person’s Facebook account. Let us help you with that process.
What Happens to a Facebook Account When Someone Dies?
Three things may happen to your loved one’s Facebook account after death. Let’s consider your choices so you and your family can make the right decision regarding your loved one’s Facebook page.
1. The Facebook account can remain active
Facebook doesn’t patrol accounts, looking for deceased users. This means that if your loved one dies with an active Facebook account, his or her page and its contents may continue indefinitely.
This means that their friends and connections can visit their pages and post on their timelines. This also means that friends and loved ones can post memories and pictures and tag your loved one. Your loved one’s friends will receive birthday reminders for your deceased family member, and your loved one will continue to “age” on the Facebook account. Friends can also still send text and photos through the Messenger app.
You may feel comforted by visiting your loved one’s Facebook page, and you may still like comments and previous posts on your account.
2. You can memorialize a Facebook account
Facebook friends can still view your loved one’s pictures and posts if the account gets memorialized. The account will say “Remembering,” plus your loved one’s name.
Accounts that have been memorialized will not appear in birthday reminders or in suggestions of “people you may know.” A legacy contact can take care of the account of the deceased family member. This person cannot post in your loved one’s name but can complete other tasks as outlined in the next section of this article.
3. You can delete the Facebook account
People can have their accounts deleted once Facebook learns of their death. Family members may also choose to delete the account permanently.
This means that all the pictures, posts, comments, and messages get removed from Facebook. Carefully consider this choice since you cannot restore the account after the final decision has been made.
Talk with all your immediate family members before deciding how to handle your loved one’s Facebook account. Some of your family members might feel devastated to have their family member’s comments permanently removed from their posts. It’s best if all parties involved agree.
How to Access a Deceased Loved One’s Facebook Account If You’re a Legacy Contact
Some people prepare for the eventuality of their death by assigning a legacy contact to their Facebook account. This person can manage tributes on the profile, delete posts, and remove tags. They can also respond to new friend requests and update the profile picture and cover photo of the deceased.
If you’re chosen as a legacy contact for someone, you’ll receive a notification. At this point, you can choose whether or not to accept this responsibility. You will not have access to your loved one’s account while your loved one is still alive. You will also not necessarily have access to your loved one’s login and password unless your loved one chooses to share that information with you.
Once your loved one passes away, you (or another Facebook friend) may request a memorialization account through Facebook. Facebook will accept several documents as proof of your loved one’s death. Scan a copy of the death certificate, the obituary, or the memorial card and submit it to Facebook. At this point, the legacy contact will gain access to the account, or the account will be deleted, depending on the settings selected by the deceased.
How to Access a Deceased Loved One’s Facebook Account if You’re Not a Legacy Contact
Your loved ones may have died unexpectedly or did not know that they could assign a friend to take control of their account after they die. If this happens, you may have a more difficult time accessing these accounts after death, but it’s not impossible.
You may consider using your loved one’s computer or phone to see if your loved one’s password manager will give you access to the account. If you can log into the account, you can delete the profile or make appropriate changes as you see fit. Keep in mind that any time you post something while logged in as your loved one, the recipient may feel shocked to receive the message under your loved one’s name.
Instead, you may decide that your best course of action is to request a memorialization account through Facebook.
Send a request to memorialize the account through Facebook. You will need to provide some proof that your loved one has passed, either by submitting a scanned copy of the death certificate, the obituary, or a memorial card.
Once you do this, if the account does not have a legacy contact, you will need to prove that you have the authority to make the decision regarding the account. You can do so by scanning the power of attorney, the last will and testament, an estate letter, as well as proof that you are a family member of the deceased.
At this time, you can delete the account or make it into a memorialized account that no one can access.
Some families choose to delete a loved one’s accounts, knowing that the content will permanently delete. Then, they may open a new account with the intended purpose of memorializing the deceased and sharing memories.
Make Things Easier for Your Loved Ones By Planning Your End of Life Events
If you have ever had to plan a loved one’s funeral unexpectedly, you know this can feel overwhelming. Besides mourning the loss of your family member, you also have to make decisions regarding burial or cremation without knowing what your loved one’s wishes may have been.
Make things easier for your loved ones by leaving clear funeral plans and a will or trust. Share where you want to be buried and even the casket color you prefer. Choose the songs for your funeral and pick out the flowers you want to display.
Once you have made all your important decisions, go under your Facebook account settings and make a decision regarding your profile. Choose a legacy contact or select that you wish your account to delete when you die. Making all of these decisions will make life easier for your loved ones.