The old adage that the only certainties in life are birth and death is one that most will ponder at some point. Many will take the time to write a legally binding Last Will and Testament, and will make arrangements to have this held securely by an appropriate body. During the construction of a final Will, executors may be appointed, last wishes noted and bequeaths detailed.
In an increasingly digitised age, new considerations are now becoming necessary when compiling Wills, to ensure that digital footprints are left behind in a manageable and accessible state. At a time of grief, it can be traumatising and an additional burden to relatives and those closest to the deceased, to become aware of unmoderated content appearing on social media pages. There are currently a range of online archive password stores and vaults available that can hold information you wish to archive, including email access details and passwords for other regularly visited sites. Executors of a Will can be left access to these vaults to ensure that they can manage your digital legacy in the most efficient manner.
Until now there has been no way to manage the content left behind on the social media site Facebook, but recognising the need to improve the current arrangement, Facebook is introducing changes that will allow a deceased Facebook account to be managed by a nominated Legacy Contact. It can be traumatising for surviving next of kin and close friends to witness what appears to be an active Facebook account, with fresh posts appearing and comments left, while they remain unable to prevent or control such actions. With this in mind, Facebook are now addressing this issue and attempting to present a manageable solution for those left behind. More details on why this is important can be found on the Mayo Wynne Baxter website about the new feature.
So what are Facebook offering?
Facebook are offering all individual users, who are currently account holders with them, the opportunity to appoint a Legacy Contact. Facebook have recognised that pages left behind by the deceased often become inadvertent ‘memorials’ and places to remember and reflect. By appointing a Legacy Contact, individuals are able to rest assured that their chosen trusted person will be able to manage their account when they no longer can.
Until now, Facebook have offered a basic service – once advised that the account holder is deceased, the account is subsequently displayed with simple memorialised features, and there has been no provision for anyone to change any settings, pictures or displays of any kind. Facebook state that having listened to the desires of those left behind, they have recognised the need for change and believe that by offering this new enhanced service, at no cost to the user, relatives or friends appointed as a Legacy Contact will be able to reflect the wishes of the deceased on their Facebook site.
What can a Facebook Legacy Contact actually do?
If an account holder chooses to appoint a Facebook Legacy Contact, they will be giving their consent for a Legacy Contact to undertake a number of tasks related to the deceased’s account including:
- Write a post for the top of the page
- Announce funeral/memorial details and contact points
- Share special messages
- Respond to any incoming friend requests
- Update the cover photo and profile picture
In addition to these powers, the Legacy Contact will also be able to download photos, posts, profile information and other archive items. The Legacy Contact will NOT be able to log in as the deceased, or read the content of any private messages sent to the deceased.
How do you create a Legacy Contact?
Facebook have made it relatively simple to create a Legacy Contact. Once you have logged into your account, you will need to follow these steps:
- Open your settings
- Choose ‘Security’
- Choose ‘Legacy Contact’ which is found at the bottom of the page
- Choose who your Legacy Contact will be
- Finally, you can elect to send a message to your chosen Legacy Contact to advise them that they have been added in this capacity.
In addition to creating the appoint Legacy Contact option, Facebook has also redesigned profile pages for deceased’s members by adding ‘Remembering’ above their name. This option, alongside the Legacy Contact, remain entirely optional and although only available as an option in the US just now, other countries will be included soon.
For further legal information and discussion about why this issue should be addressed by everyone please visit http://www.mayowynnebaxter.co.uk/blog/death-in-the-digital-age/