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Setting a Facebook Legacy Contact

Facebook-legacy-3Until 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.

Facebook recently launched a new feature that could help your loved ones through the grieving process in the event of your death. It's called a "Legacy Contact."

If you are a Facebook user, you may want to go into your account now and designate your Legacy Contact to manage your account when you pass away. Here is how it works when someone passes away:

  1. A friend or family members lets Facebook know by submitting a Memorialization Request here: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/651319028315841
  2. Once Facebook memorializes the account, the Legacy Contact can:
  • 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

You also may designate whether your Legacy Contact can download an archive of your social posts. Alternatively, you can tell Facebook that you prefer to have your account deleted upon your death.

For specific instructions about how to name a Legacy Contact, visit Facebook's newsroom at: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/02/adding-a-legacy-contact/

Of course, many state legislatures are currently wrestling with how to handle digital accounts after the user passes away.

Consequently, this issue might eventually be taken out of Facebook's hands entirely. Until then, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you make arrangements for your “digital assets” pending future legislation.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Facebook Newsroom ( February 12, 2015) "Adding a Legacy Contact"

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There Is No Digital Account Too Small for Estate Planning

Digital_Assets-700x500When WGN-TV reporter Randi Belisomo lost her husband Carlos to colon cancer in 2010, she couldn’t fix the cable because he was the only one with the account password. Things like passwords, social media channels, and online banking accounts are often overlooked when a loved one dies.

Since most digital accounts require passwords for access, it is no surprise that these accounts can be almost impossible to open when their owner passes away – especially if they were not included in the owner’s estate plan.

This includes accounts we would not have considered as important even a decade ago.

For example, if you open a line of credit with a furniture store, you might be required to produce a password either online or by phone to do something as simple as check the account balance or the next payment due date. If there is still a balance due on the account, then it is important that your executor or estate administrator have that password so he or she can pay the appropriate amount.

If you think that these smaller accounts do not matter, you might be surprised to know that something as simple as scheduling cable repairs can be difficult without the password.

That was the case for a WGN reporter after her husband died of cancer. Her experience is recounted in a recent WGN article titled "Preparing for the digital afterlife."

Unfortunately, her husband was the only person who knew the password and the reporter was therefore unable to request any changes or repairs to the cable account.

When preparing your estate plan remember every account you have.

Even if you think it is too small to bother with in an estate plan, someone will need to have access to it if you pass away.

Contact an experienced estate planning attorney. He or she can help you ensure that such seemingly little details are not overlooked in your estate planning.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: WGN (May 18, 2015) "Preparing for the digital afterlife."

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