There was a time when we didn't talk openly about death. It simply wasn't on our radar. But in these strange days of working from home, local lockdowns and daily death figures on the news, it sometimes feels like talking about death has become part of our new normal. Maybe that's no bad thing, as it's something that is going to affect us all at some point and while #wfh there's no better time to do a spot of death admin. Admittedly as lockdown activities go, its not quite up there with baking banana bread and Jo Wicks workouts, but it's definitely something we should turn our minds to, even if just to make life easier for our loved ones after we've gone.
Working in the funeral industry I like to think I'm fairly death aware, but it was only recently that I got round to setting up a Legacy Contact on my facebook account. So I thought it might be useful to outline the process here in case others wanted to do the same. It only takes a minute and will help your loved ones to know that your wishes have been carried out.
What is a Legacy Contact?
A legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your facebook account when it has been memorialised (in other words, after you've died). The legacy contact will be able to make decisions about your facebook account based on the preferences that you have selected.
Why do I need one?
It's a good idea to set up a legacy contact so that when you die your facebook account can be put into 'Memorialised' mode (see below). For example, you wouldn't want your birthday reminders popping up on your friends' feeds when you're no longer around. Many people will choose a spouse, parent, grown-up child, sibling or trusted friend to be their legacy contact (they must be over 18 years old). You may wish to do a reciprocal arrangement, so you become the legacy contact for your partner and they become yours, for example.
How do I set up a Legacy Contact?
1. On a desktop, click on the 'arrow in a circle' at the top right of your Facebook profile page. On a mobile, click on the three lines at the bottom right of your profile page.
2. Select Settings & Privacy, then click 'Settings' from the drop-down menu.
3. Under 'Account Settings' click 'Memorialisation Settings' and click 'Edit'. On the mobile app there are a couple more steps... from 'Account Settings' you need to click 'Personal Information' then 'Manage Account' to to reach the Legacy Contact section.
4. Type the name of the person you have chosen to be your legacy contact and click 'Add'. The legacy contact must already be your friend on facebook.
5. To let your friend know that you have chosen them as your legacy contact, click Send. This will open a message template which you can edit if you like. The default message text says:
Hi [name], Facebook lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their profile if something happens to them. As you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.
Note: Your legacy contact can only manage posts which have been created after you've died. They won't be able to post as you or see your messages. See below for more details of what they can and can't do.
What can a Legacy Contact Do?
- Write a pinned post for your profile (e.g. to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service).
- View posts, even if you had set your privacy to 'only me'.
- Decide who can see and who can post tributes, if the memorialised account has an area for tributes.
- Delete tribute posts.
- Change who can see posts that you're tagged in.
- Remove tags of you that someone else has posted.
- Respond to new friend requests (for example: old friends or family members who weren't yet on facebook).
- Update your profile picture and cover photo.
- Request the removal of your account.
- Turn off the requirement to review posts and tags before they appear in the tributes section, if you had timeline review turned on.
- Download a copy of what you've shared on Facebook such as photos and posts (only if you have this feature enabled - you have the option to switch this off when adding a legacy contact).
- Log into your account.
- Read your messages.
- Remove any of your friends or make new friend requests.
Can I change my legacy contact?
Yes, you can change or remove your legacy contact in your account's General Settings at any time. To change or remove a legacy contact, follow steps 1–3 above, then click 'Remove' to remove the current legacy contact. From there, you can add a new legacy contact if you'd like.
What is a Memorialised account?
A Memorialised account is a place where friends and family can gather and share memories after a person has died. Memorialised accounts have the following key features:
- The word 'Remembering' will be shown next to the profile name.
- Depending on the privacy settings, friends can share memories on the memorialised timeline.
- Posts which were shared previously remain visible to the audience they were originally shared with.
- Memorialised profiles don't appear in public spaces such as in suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders.
- No one can log into a memorialised account.
- Memorialised accounts that don't have a legacy contact can't be changed.
Can I choose to have my account deleted instead?
Yes, you can choose to have your account permanently deleted after your death instead of memorialising it. This means that all of your posts, photos, messages, comments and information will be immediately and permanently removed, once facebook has been notified of your death. Before choosing this option, do bear in mind that your family and friends won't be able to look back at your facebook posts and remember you through your feed.
- From the top right of facebook select 'Settings'.
- Click 'Memorialisation Settings'.
- Scroll down, click 'Request that your account be deleted after you pass away', and click 'Delete After Death'.
Of course, facebook is only one platform out of the many that we all use on a daily basis. If you'd like a watertight plan for your digital legacy after you've died, you might want to consider signing up to password manager software where you can nominate a trusted person to receive an email after you have died, enabling them to access your passwords. If you have any other ideas for managing your digital legacy or know of any useful apps or software, do let us know so we can share them...