Do you ever think about what will happen to your Facebook account or your parents’ Facebook account if they pass away? If so, you’re not the only one. First, you'll need to choose and create your Legacy Contact on your Facebook account.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Does a Legacy Contact Do?
- How to Choose Your Legacy Contact
- How to Create Your Legacy Contact
- How to Update or Remove Your Legacy Contact
Facebook thought through this very issue and came up with a solution. They call it the Legacy Contact. With a legacy contact, a person can choose someone to look after their account and control its activities once they’ve passed away. The account can be controlled and memorialized. Different features can be controlled by the designated legacy contact according to the will and wishes of the deceased.
The legacy contact feature is just one part of a robust digital afterlife. When utilized well, it can be a place for friends and loved ones to gather and reminisce over someone they’ve lost and look back through what their loved one had to say.
What Does a Legacy Contact Do?
Facebook is one of the most widely used social media platforms. People use Facebook to connect with friends, loved ones, acquaintances, and even old high school buddies. Now it's also an important place to remember friends and loved ones who are no longer with us and preserve them in our memories. Whenever a person passes away, Facebook’s legacy contact feature allows their account to become a memorial of their life and convey their final message to the world.
A legacy contact has many permissions and some limitations. They can download an archive of posts, photos, and other profile information that the person shared on their Facebook account to keep for posterity. Some settings remain as they were before the account is memorialized. For instance, a legacy contact cannot see any personal chats of the deceased or send new friend requests on their behalf.
Because of a legacy contact’s permissions, it’s important to choose this person wisely. Your chosen contact will be able to make decisions for your account after its memorialization. A legacy contact can perform several functions including:
- Sharing a final message on behalf of the deceased or pinning a post related to funeral information.
- Viewing all past posts—even those set to “only me.”
- Deciding who will be allowed to see and post tributes.
- Deleting any inappropriate tribute posts.
- Changing privacy settings like who can see posts you’re tagged in.
- Responding to recent and new friend requests.
- Removing the account from any tagged posts.
- Updating the account’s cover and profile photos.
- Requesting the removal of the account.
- Download a copy of the account's activity to keep for posterity, especially if they decide to delete the account altogether.
When a person dies, and they have nominated a legacy contact, there are a few steps the legacy contact must take to step in and maintain the page. First of all, Facebook requires proof of the account holder's death. This comes in the form of a memorialization request form and their obituary.
Once the request has been processed, the chosen legacy contact is notified and granted access to the Facebook account. The memorialized Facebook account looks just like any other account with two exceptions.
There's no option to add them as a friend and the word “remembering” is added over the person’s name. If a person has not designated a legacy contact, you can still request to memorialize a Facebook account as a tribute to the person who passed away through a separate process.
Our lives are increasingly digital, and this affects our digital afterlife as well. From virtual funerals on GatheringUs to memorialized Facebook pages, these are the new normal for our digital legacies.
How to Choose Your Legacy Contact
Many people use social accounts as a final place for their remembrance and memorial. Visitors can stop by the account of their lost ones and go through the memories again. Choosing your legacy contact, however, should take some careful consideration.
Step 1: Consider your options
Carefully consider who you want your legacy contact to be. This person will have considerable control over everything you've posted—pictures, notes, old posts you set to “only me”—plus the tributes posted by friends and family.
Be sure your legacy contact is a person you trust and expect to outlive you.
Step 2: Ask your legacy contact
This is probably the hardest part of choosing a legacy contact. Few people like talking about death. For some, even discussing a person’s wishes is a difficult process.
It might be a hard conversation, but remember, it’s because your legacy contact loves you and wouldn't want to be without you.
Step 3: Explain
Be sure to explain what a legacy contact can and cannot do. Make sure they understand their role and responsibilities and are ready to accept them.
Step 4: Share
Share any final wishes you have regarding your page and last messages you want them to pin to the top for your followers to read. Alert them to any people you do not wish to post a tribute to your page.
How to Create Your Legacy Contact
Until now, Facebook used to offer a simple memorialized account that could be viewed but not managed by another person. Facebook recently made changes to allow people to choose a legacy contact. To prepare your account for a legacy contact, simply follow these few steps.
Step 1: Settings
Open up your settings tab. Under the options for your name, username, and contact info, you’ll see an option for “Memorialization Settings.” Click it.
Step 2: Choose legacy contact
You’ll see some information about what a legacy contact has permission to do. There is a box where you can add the name of a person you want to be your legacy contact.
Step 3: Contact message
Once you choose your legacy contact, Facebook will notify the person of your decision. You also have an opportunity to message them and include information about why you’ve chosen them or any final wishes you would like to be carried out with regard to your account.
Step 4: Optional choice
At this point, you have the option to request to have your account deleted after you pass away. Choose carefully, because your entire account, including pictures, messages, and information, will be irretrievably deleted.
How to Update or Remove Your Legacy Contact
Life happens. If you need to make changes to your legacy contact or if you want to remove it altogether, then the following steps are for you.
Step 1: Update
Updating the person you choose to be your legacy contact is very simple. First, you’ll need to follow the first two steps mentioned above in the “create a legacy contact” section.
You will then be provided with the option to update or change your legacy contact. Choose the new person you wish to be your legacy contact and Facebook will send them a message alerting them to your decision.
Step 2: Remove
If you would rather remove the legacy contact option altogether, you can do that as well. Go back to general settings and choose memorialization. From this point, you will see a “remove legacy contact” button. Simply click this and the legacy contact will be removed from your account.
If you wish to delete your account entirely rather than have it memorialized, you can submit a request to delete your Facebook account in case of your death.
Determine Your Digital Afterlife
There are many people who you know and love—and many more who know and love you. When you pass away, your loved ones will probably struggle to process the fact that you are no longer with them.
Through a memorialized account managed by a trusted legacy contact, you can now leave behind your memories, photos, and messages for your loved ones to read through and enjoy. While it certainly won’t replace your presence, it can definitely help provide comfort and solace to those who miss you.
Want to learn more about what else you should do with your Facebook before you die or delete your account? Read our guide on how to download all of your Facebook photos for safekeeping.
- Facebook Editors. “What Is a Legacy Contact?” Help Center, Facebook, 2020. facebook.com/help/1568013990080948
- Facebook Editors. “How Do I Add, Change, or Remove My Legacy Contact on Facebook?” Help Center, Facebook, 2020. facebook.com/help/1070665206293088
- Facebook Editors. “I Am A Legacy Contact. How Do I Manage a Memorialized Profile?” Help Center, Facebook, 2020. facebook.com/help/828408313868251