What Happens to Your Facebook Profile When You Die?

What your options are for your Facebook presence when you're gone

When someone passes away friends or family are often left to manage their online accounts. On Facebook, there are two different things someone with authority over their account can do with their profile:

  1. Memorialize the profile.
  2. Request to delete the profile and account.

Turning a Deceased Person's Facebook Profile Into a Memorialized Profile

A memorialized profile is very similar to a profile, however certain features that require the user to be active will be gone or frozen. A memorialized profile serves as a place where people can still view shared content, leave comments and celebrate the deceased person's life.

A memorialized profile features the following:

  • The word "remembering" appears next to the deceased person's name.
  • No further presence of the deceased person's profile will appear in public spaces, such as birthdays or friend suggestions.
  • Content shared by the deceased person remains visible to the original audience to which it was shared.
  • Friends can share memories on the memorialized profile if the page's privacy settings allow it.

Once a Facebook memorialized profile is created, it is completely secured and cannot be accessed or altered by anyone unless the deceased person set up a legacy contact before they passed.

About Legacy Contacts

A legacy contact is a Facebook user chosen to look after another user's account and profile once they've passed away. Legacy contacts are authorized to decide whether to memorize or delete the account. If the legacy contact chooses to have it memorialized, they can do the following:

  • Write a pinned post to the memorialized profile
  • Respond to friend requests
  • Update the deceased user's profile photo and cover photo

Legacy contacts can't log into the memorialized profile, delete or edit content that was posted by the deceased person, view messages sent to other friends or remove friends. Every Facebook user can add a legacy contact via their account settings.

Select the down arrow in the top right corner of your account, select Settings and then select Manage Account. In the field labeled Choose a friend, enter the name of a friend as your legacy contact, select Add and then hit Send to let your friend know that you've chosen them as your legacy contact.

A screenshot of Facebook.com.

You can change your legacy contact by removing the existing one and adding a new one. At this time, it looks like you can only add one friend as a legacy contact.

If a deceased user didn't set up a legacy contact before they passed, you can submit a Memorialization Request to have their profile memorialized. You'll be asked to provide proof of the deceased person's death by providing appropriate documentation (such as a copy of an obituary, death certificate, memorial card, etc.)

Requesting to Delete a Deceased Person's Facebook Account

If a deceased person's Facebook account isn't going to be memorialized, the legacy contact can have it deleted. Deleting the account means that all information and data will be completely removed from Facebook.

If the deceased person doesn't have a legacy contact, only verified immediate family members can request to have their account deleted. This requires proof of authority via power of attorney, birth certificate, last will and testament or estate later as well as proof of the deceased person's death via a copy of an obituary or memorial card.

Keep in mind that even if you have all of the proof required by Facebook to either memorialize or delete their account, Facebook can't provide login information even for deceased individuals.

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