Facebook & Estate Planning

Facebook & Estate Planning

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recently announced a limited planning functionality, called Facebook Legacy Contacts, associated with Facebook accounts:

Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to:

  • Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)
  • Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
  • Update the profile picture and cover photo

If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.

Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.

Until now, when someone passed away, we offered a basic memorialized account which was viewable, but could not be managed by anyone. By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death.

In sum, a Legacy Contact has limited rights to change a decedent’s profile and otherwise announce the death of the account holder, without requiring court-appointment, similar to beneficiary designations with financial assets goverened by federal law, e.g. IRAs.

This brief overview of Arizona and federal law is by no means comprehensive and is not legal advice. Always seek the advice of a competent professional when making important financial and legal decisions.

Steve Cook is a Mesa, Arizona probate attorney at Cook & Cook. Although his office is located in Mesa, Arizona, he represents clients throughout the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan area including the following east valley cities: Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Chandler, & Gilbert.

Facebook recently announced a limited digital estate planning functionality, called Facebook Legacy Contacts, associated with Facebook accounts:

Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to:

  • Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)
  • Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
  • Update the profile picture and cover photo

If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.

Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.

Until now, when someone passed away, we offered a basic memorialized account which was viewable, but could not be managed by anyone. By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realized there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death.

In sum, a Legacy Contact has limited rights to change a decedent's profile and otherwise announce the death of the account holder, without requiring court-appointment, similar to beneficiary designations with financial assets goverened by federal law, e.g. IRAs.

This brief overview of Arizona and federal estate planning law is by no means comprehensive and is not legal advice. Always seek the advice of a competent professional when making important financial and legal decisions.

Steve Cook is a Mesa, Arizona probate attorney at Cook & Cook. Although his office is located in Mesa, Arizona, he represents clients throughout the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan area including the following east valley cities: Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Chandler, & Gilbert.


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