Digital Afterlife: Don’t Haunt Facebook After You Die!

First in a series on managing your Digital Estate.

Nothing lasts forever.  How many times have you heard that? When it comes to your digital afterlife however, all bets are off.  Your online information can exist as long as there are companies willing to host the information.  If you’ve ever had the disconcerting experience of having a dead person suggested as a possible ‘friend’, you know what I am talking about.  Companies are beginning to realize the issue, but it is up to you to take the necessary steps to protect your information and the sensibilities of your loved ones.


You may have heard that Facebook has taken steps to allow you to control your digital afterlife.  It is a little complicated, and for some, not entirely satisfying.


This is intended to be a temporary halt to your affairs.  Nothing is deleted.  You simply become invisible until you return.  Some information, especially that which you have sent to others, is still visible to them.


Legacy Contacts & Memorialization

You can choose someone to ‘look after’ your account after you die, a legacy contact.  They don’t get notified until your account is ‘memorialized’.  While they can respond to condolences and friend requests, they cannot remove any material that you have posted.   They can download the content of your account.  Your Legacy Contact has to be a ‘facebook friend’, so if you want to choose a child, thinking they will outlive you, they have to also be your facebook friend.   We know this doesn’t always happen!  A memorialized account cannot be deleted.

Memorialization is for all eternity:

  1. The word ‘Remembering’ is placed next to your name
  2. Anything you shared remains visible to those you shared it with
  3. No one can log into the account
  4. You are no longer ‘promoted’ in public lists or birthday reminders
  5. Pages owned solely by you can be removed with a valid request

Permanent Deletion

Permanent deletion is an option you can choose to have happen if you pass away.

Settings>Security>Legacy contact>Account Deletion

With either Memorialization or Deletion, someone will have to contact Facebook and will need to know your Facebook name, email address used, and send a Death Certificate or other acceptable document.  Facebook only promises that your loved one’s can request these actions, not that they will do it!

If you permanently delete your account, everything on your account gets wiped out, over a period of 90 days.  This includes photos, updates, and information on your profile.   Unless you have designated a Legacy Contact, information may not be accessible for download.

This article is an overview.  For more detail I suggest you visit the facebook site help page at:


How does Paper Tigress help with all of this?  As a Daily Money Manager, I make it my company’s business to stay on top of issues that affect the personal business affairs of our clients.  Facebook is only one website.  There are many more and a lot of them don’t even have policies for accounts of the deceased.  We encourage our clients to keep track of their online lives in an organized way, so things can be shut down later if they so desire.  We have a protocol for doing this, but it does take a good deal of discipline and follow through to accomplish.  The more online accounts you have, the harder it can be to keep track of it all without a system.

The legal world is starting to pay attention to the digital estate issue, and attorneys will hopefully begin to address this as part of an estate review.  But if you don’t want to become a digital ghost, haunting your family and friends forever, it is something else to think about.

My next article in this series will address the money left behind in your online world.




Your health and peace of mind are worth every step of this journey.