Facebook has recently updated its user policies to allow account holders to designate a so-called “legacy contact.” This legacy contact will have the ability to manage the Facebook user’s account if and when that person passes away. This new policy reflects a growing appreciation of the importance of digital estate planning, especially in light of the increased significance that digital assets play in our day-to-day lives.
While the Facebook policy change does give people who are concerned about this type of issue some new planning options, it is not something you can use to address all of your digital asset concerns. Nevertheless, understanding what this change in Facebook policy means for you, and how you can take advantage of it, is something you need to do if digital estate planning is important to you.
Facebook Legacy Contacts
Under the terms of the new policy, every Facebook user has the ability to designate a chosen legacy contact. Once selected, the legacy contact will have specific abilities in managing the Facebook user’s account after that user passes away. Specifically, the legacy contact can archive the user’s Facebook data, delete that users account, and manage any posted messages.
In order to choose a legacy contact, Facebook users have to take a few simple steps. First, if you have a Facebook account, you’ll need to go to your Facebook “Settings” menu. After that, you need to select “Security” and then choose “Legacy Contact.” Once you are in the legacy contact window, you can then type in the name of the person who you want to serve as your selected legacy contact. You will also have the ability to send your chosen legacy contact a message notifying them of your selection, as well as give that person the ability to archive your Facebook data or delete your account following your death.
It’s important to note that even though you have the ability to choose whomever you want to serve as your legacy contact, you should take some time to think about who the best person for the job would be. Choosing a child, for example, is probably not a good idea, unless the child is already an adult, and the child is someone you are sure can handle the responsibility.
Legacy Contacts and Digital Estate Planning
Even though the Facebook policy is a positive change for people concerned about digital estate planning, it’s a reminder that you need to make sure that your digital estate plan is something you keep up to date. Every company can have its own policies regarding user data, and these companies can change those policies at almost any time. Keeping a list of all the digital assets you have, as well as keeping track of the company policies that apply to each of those assets, is something you will need to do if you want to make sure your digital estate plan is current and up-to-date.
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