When a friend or loved one dies, that person leaves a digital afterlife behind. Social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube all require forethought to make sure the accounts are treated properly. If you’re thinking through this process for yourself, you can ensure your wishes and that a plan is in place to handle your digital accounts after you pass away.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Can You Un-Memorialize a Facebook Account for You or Someone Else?
- How to Request the Deletion of a Memorialized Account
If you’re trying to figure out what you can do for a loved one’s account, you have limited options. Most social media sites try their best to handle digital property in a respectful and meaningful way. Here’s how to un-memorialize a Facebook account.
Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, closing accounts and other aspects of handling a loved one's unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Can You Un-Memorialize a Facebook Account for You or Someone Else?
When someone passes away, Facebook has decided to give the deceased and their relatives two options for what happens to the account. You can either memorialize the account or delete it altogether.
When you memorialize a Facebook account, you can expect the following to occur:
- The word “Remembering” will be placed over the account holder’s name.
- Friends can still share memories and tributes to the page.
- Private chats will be inaccessible.
- Shared, visible content will remain.
If you choose to memorialize your account as part of your final wishes, Facebook has extended the option to appoint a legacy contact. This person will have limited access to manage your memorialized account. A legacy contact can:
- Accept friend requests
- Pin messages to the top of the page
- Manage tributes and delete/deny posts
What happens after an account is memorialized?
Once an account is fully memorialized, this action cannot be undone. Accounts are only memorialized after proof of death has been submitted by an immediate relative or the pre-appointed legacy contact.
What if I want to change my legacy contact?
You can change your legacy contact at any time. Simply follow these steps:
- Open up settings.
- Click “Memorialization Settings.”
- Enter the name of the new person you want to be your legacy contact.
- The new legacy contact will be sent a message that you have chosen them to manage your memorialized account when the time comes.
What if I no longer want my account to be memorialized?
If you’ve decided to set up your account to be memorialized after your death and no longer want this to occur, you can change your wishes.
If you want Facebook to simply delete your account instead of memorializing it, you can change your wishes in the settings. To do this you should:
- Open up settings.
- Click “Memorialization Settings.”
- Click “Request that your account be deleted.”
At this point, you will be able to change your settings from memorialization to deleted. Keep in mind that, once deleted, your entire account and everything you posted will be gone forever.
Do you want a way for your friends and family to look through the memories they have with you on your Facebook page? If so, it’s best to keep the memorialization setting and appoint someone you trust as a legacy contact instead.
What if I want my account memorialized, then deleted at a later time?
Memorialized accounts provide your friends and relatives the unique opportunity to treat your Facebook page just like an online memorial site. If you want your friends and relatives to have the ability to post memories, tributes, and scroll back through memories for a specific time, you’ll want to share this with your legacy contact or a close relative.
After your account is memorialized, your legacy contact can manage your account for as long as you wish. If you want your memorialized account deleted after a certain amount of time, you’ll need to make sure your legacy contact or an immediate relative is aware of your wishes.
A legacy contact or immediate family member is allowed to delete your account, but after your account is deleted, they will not be able to bring it back. Deletion is permanent.
If you’re already a legacy contact or immediate family member and you need to delete a memorialized account, go through the following steps to ensure the account is removed.
How to Request the Deletion of a Memorialized Account
You can delete a memorialized account as long as you are the legacy contact for a person’s page or an immediate family member.
Step 1: Submit proof of relationship
Facebook will need verifiable proof that you are an immediate family member or the executor. Proof of this fact includes:
- Power of attorney
- Birth certificate
- Last will and testament
- Letter from the estate
Step 2: Submit proof of death
In addition to proof of relationship, Facebook also needs proof of the person’s death. You can supply documentation including:
- Memorial card
- Death certificate
Note: The name on the documentation you submit and the name on the account must match. Your request to delete the account may be denied If it doesn’t match.
Step 3: Request deletion
When requesting the deletion of an account, you’ll need to fill out a form with information including:
- Your name
- Your email for contacting purposes
- The name of the deceased person
- The URL or link to the profile
- The account’s email address
Step 4: Submit request
After filling out the form, select the reason for your request. In this case, you’re requesting the deletion of an account due to a person’s death.
At this point, Facebook will review your request and any documentation you’ve provided. If there are problems with the documentation, you may be requested to submit secondary documentation.
After everything checks out, you’ll be notified that your request has been approved. You can then expect the account to be deleted by Facebook administration within a week.
Step 5: Confirm deletion
Once Facebook administrators have confirmed the person’s death and your authority to request the deletion of the account, they will delete the account within two to five days.
You can check periodically to ensure the appropriate steps have been taken by Facebook by searching for the person’s profile.
Once deleted, you’ll no longer be able to view it. Keep in mind that once you delete your Facebook account or that of another person, there is no recovery of any part of their account, posts, or pictures.
Remember Final Wishes
Facebook accounts, just like any piece of digital afterlife, should be factored into a person’s final wishes.
Whether your loved one wants his account to be used as a memorial where friends or family can gather or prefers to have it removed entirely, always adhere to a person’s desires. Carrying out your loved one’s request is a final way you can honor and respect your loved one’s wishes.
- “What will happen to my Facebook account if I pass away?” Help Center, Facebook. facebook.com/help/103897939701143/
- How do I request the removal of a deceased family member's Facebook account? Help Center, Facebook. facebook.com/help/1518259735093203
- “Special Request for Medically Incapacitated or Deceased Person's Account.” Help Center, Facebook. facebook.com/help/contact/228813257197480