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Thinking about facebookAre you one of the 144 Billion Monthly Users of Facebook? The statistics on the people who use Facebook are staggering. Did you know that over 45% of Facebook users are age 65+? Whether you use Facebook personally, professionally or both, you are in good company. But what happens, if something happens to you?

While we may consider ourselves immortal, the fact remains that we have to face reality. You may have created an Estate Plan for your assets and financial matters, but most likely, you haven’t given much thought to websites, passwords and your social media accounts.

The reality is that when a Facebook user passes away, their page often becomes a sort of modern-day memorial. Until recently, upon a user’s death, Facebook would deem the page “memorialized,” locking login abilities so that no one could access it and make changes. But Facebook users wanted more choice, especially family members or loved ones upset that they could not edit the deceased’s online presence.

Introduced earlier this year, Facebook users now have the option to choose a “legacy contact” to manage parts of their account posthumously. The designated contact will be able to do things like write memorial posts on the person’s page, respond to friend requests and update the person’s profile picture.

The legacy contact can also download an archive of the person’s photos, posts ad profile information and add a note to the top of their page that says “remembering,” but will not be able to see the deceased’s private messages. The service is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada.

Legacy contacts cannot delete photos, edit posts that the deceased wrote or delete the account entirely; however, the deceased user can make the choice to have their account deleted after their death when adding their legacy contact, which was not previously possible.

The person you choose to manage your account won’t be notified of your choice until your Facebook account is memorialized. Facebook will also send you an annual reminder of your legacy contact choice. This could help if the person dies before you do or if you decide you would prefer to have someone else manage your account. Facebook members can change their legacy contact selection at any time, but once they have died, a legacy contact can’t pass along the responsibility to someone else.

If a person does not choose a legacy contact, Facebook will continue to freeze the person’s account and leave everything as it was. Facebook accounts are memorialized at the request of loved ones, who must provide proof of the person’s death, such as an obituary. Facebook tries to ensure that the account of the dead user doesn’t show up as a “suggested friend” or in other ways that could upset the person’s loved ones.

If no legacy contact is chosen on Facebook, but someone is named a digital heir in a legal will, Facebook will designate that person the contact.

Selecting your legacy contact on Facebook is a simple process. After logging onto your profile, go to “Settings” in the dropdown menu located at the top right of the screen, then select “Security” and click “Legacy Contact” towards the bottom of the page. From there, fill out the requested information and leave with the peace of mind knowing that your page is set up for management after you pass away.

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