Broker Check

I See Dead People

| June 22, 2018
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I have lost a few friends over the past several years, yet I still see their faces on Facebook. I am reminded of their birthdays and am forced to decide whether unfriending them would make me disloyal to their memory or respectful of the current situation. I don’t know.

With over one billion users, Facebook (and other social media) plays a major role in our lives. I spend more time on most days checking Facebook than I do watching television. We use Facebook to connect with others and to mark stages of our lives. But Facebook is not just about life. Like it or not, your Facebook account will be there after you die, so just as you should communicate who gets that enameled spoon collection you received from Aunt Tabatha, so should you communicate what you want done with your online presence.

Unless you like the idea you will haunt the clouds for evermore, here are three choices.

1.      Hand over the key

You can ask someone to create a Facebook page or group, like a scrapbook, to remember your life after your death. To do this, you will have to give that person your login and password information, so they can switch images you thought were important to your life to this new account (and leave behind others that were not so appropriate). Facebook will not provide passwords even with documentation of your death, so if this is going to happen, you must make it so. This administrator can invite your friends to become a member of this new account (called “Like” in Facebook parlance). If this route appeals to you, then you will need to lay your wishes out in a letter or video contained with your estate documents.  

2.       Turn off the light

Use this link to deactivate a deceased person’s account: Immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from Facebook. That person will need proof of both the relationship with the deceased and the proof of death.

3.       Memorialize someone on Facebook

Facebook will memorialize the account of a deceased person upon receiving a valid request. This does not create a new account but rather changes the existing account. Facebook will prevent references to memorialized accounts from appearing on Facebook in ways that may be upsetting to the person's friends and family.

Here are key features Facebook lists of memorialized accounts:

§  Facebook does not allow anyone to log into a memorialized account.

§  Memorialized accounts cannot be modified in any way. This includes adding or removing friends, modifying photos or deleting any pre-existing content posted by the person.

§  Depending on the privacy settings of the deceased person's account, friends can share memories on the memorialized Timeline.

§  Anyone can send private messages to the deceased person.

§  Content the deceased person shared (e.g.: photos, posts) remains on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with.

§  Memorialized Timelines don't appear in public spaces such as in suggestions for People You May Know, birthday reminders, or ads.

§  Groups solely belonging to a memorialized account will be able to select new admins, while Pages will be removed from Facebook.

Here again, Facebook will not provide login information for a memorialized account. Use the following link: to report a profile for Facebook to memorialize.

Like every other aspect of financial planning, you have a plan. It may not be the plan you want, because even not making a decision is a decision. So, take control of this aspect of your life and death. Live -- and plan -- as if you will live forever but die tomorrow. That way, you won’t get it wrong.

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