What happens to someone's Facebook account when they pass away?
After someone passes away, their Facebook account can be memorialised, and turned into an online spot for family and friends to gather in remembrance.
A memorialised Facebook page isn’t like a normal one. No one can log into it or directly edit content on it, but a specified legacy contact can change the profile picture and cover photo, write a post for the page which will stay in a prominent position, and respond to new friend requests.
Key features of a memorialised Facebook account
When memorialised, a Facebook page has the following features:
- A different name. Shows the word “Remembering” prominently in front of the person’s name
- Memory sharing. Allows friends to share memories on the account timeline, depending on the privacy settings
- Old content visible. Keeps previously posted content visible
- Hidden from birthdays. Does not show up in public spaces like birthday reminders
- Disabled logins. Cannot be logged into by anyone
What does a memorialised Facebook page look like?
A memorialised Facebook page looks a lot like a regular one. The key differences are that it says “Remembering” in front of a person’s name and will always have a legacy contact’s message at the top, if applicable.
What happens to your account
Managing your accounts
Can I let someone control my account if I pass away?
Yes you can. This is done with Legacy Settings, which is found under Security. People can choose whether their account is:
- Deleted after they pass away,
- Or they can choose 'legacy contact' to manage a memorial page.
How do I choose a legacy contact?
To choose a legacy contacts go to:
- Click on the security tab on the left
- Edit legacy contact settings
Who can become a legacy contact?
Your legacy contact can be chosen by yourself. However, you have to be age 18 or over to choose a legacy contact. If there is no specified legacy contact, the page can still be memorialised. You cannot request to become a legacy contact, even as a family member.
What if there is no legacy contact?
When Facebook becomes aware of account-holders passing away its policy is to memorialise their pages by default. This keeps the deceased’s page secure, while preventing it from automatically appearing on timelines as birthday reminders or other public spaces.
How to memorialise a Facebook page
Verified family members can contact Facebook to request that a page be:
- Or deleted
What types of information needs to be provided?
- Who has passed away. This is their name on Facebook.
- When they passed away. This can be approximated if you don't have the exact date
- A proof of death. This can be helpful for the team who reviews the death.
- Your name
- Name of the deceased persons account
- The timeline address
- An email of the deceased
- When they passed away
How to manage and edit a Facebook memorial page
A specified legacy contact will only exist if chosen by the account holder through the settings menu. If there is no legacy contact then the page cannot be edited, although people can still post on it to share memories and gather online in memory.
A legacy contact can:
- Change the page’s profile picture and cover photo
- Accept new friend requests
- Write a post which will always appear at the top of the page
They cannot actually log in to the account, remove friends, read messages or remove previous photos.
If a family member prefers not to use a Facebook memorial page, such as if there was no legacy contact and they feel like the current photo isn’t right, then one alternative to consider is requesting that the account be deleted, and instead creating a new Facebook memorial group.
This gives you a lot more control over the photos and content which will appear, who can post there and everything else.
What is a Facebook memorial group?
You can create a memorial group on Facebook to tribute someone. You can choose who to invite to it, which pictures to upload and whether it’s public (visible to everyone, and with everyone being able to post there) or private (for invited members only).
This can also be a good way to contact a person’s friends to let them know about funeral arrangements and more.
One good arrangement might be to create a private group and only invite family and friends of the person, and then adjust the group settings to let people invite others as desired. This can help spread the word and make sure everyone can get involved, while still ensuring a degree of privacy to prevent strangers from writing inappropriate things, or posting pictures you don’t want there.
Things to consider
It might be worth considering whether the person would want a page memorialised. A more private person might instead prefer to delete their account, rather than have all their photos and content live on forever.
Memorial pages can only be posted on by Facebook-friends of the account holder, so without a legacy contact people who weren’t already Facebook friends might not be able to get involved or share their memories on the page.
Here, creating a memorial group might be a better option.
Frequently asked questions
How do I contact Facebook to request that an account be memorialised?
Contact Facebook here to request that an account be memorialised.
How do I contact Facebook to request that an account be deleted?
You will need to be able to show that you are a family member or executor of the person who passed away. You can do this by providing a scan or photo of a death certificate, or power of attorney, birth certificate, last will and testament or estate letter.
You will also need to show that the person has passed away by submitting an obituary or memorial card.
You only need to show that you have the right to request deletion, and that the person has passed away so remember to cover up any other information you don’t want to send, like addresses.
With the documentation, you can send a request here.
How long does it take until Facebook automatically memorialises an account?
Facebook will memorialise an account when it becomes aware of someone passing away. This might only happen when a family member requests it or Facebook might become aware of it in another way.
Can I add or remove content from a memorialised Facebook account?
Content, like photos or previous posts on the timeline, cannot be removed from a memorialised account. Only new content can be added, while legacy contacts can only make certain changes, and not remove anything.
What exactly can a Facebook legacy contact see and do?
A legacy contact can only:
- Change the cover picture and profile picture
- Add a pinned post to the memorial page
- Respond to new friend requests
In addition to this, account holders can also choose whether legacy contacts can download any information from the account. If chosen, the legacy contact can receive:
- Photos and videos previously uploaded
- Wall posts
- Profile and contact information
- The friends list
Legacy contacts cannot access the messages, ads clicked on, pokes, security and settings information or photos that were automatically synced but not posted.
I’m a legacy contact. How do I manage a memorialised page?
Go to the memorialised profile, and in the bottom right of the cover photo you can click Manage.
Will I be informed if someone chooses me as a legacy contact?
A legacy contact is only informed of it when an account is memorialised.
Why can’t I log into a memorialised Facebook account?
No one is allowed to actually login to another person’s Facebook account. Even a legacy contact cannot actually login to an account, and can only manage it.
I can’t find the account of someone who’s passed away. What happened?
If an account has been removed then it’s because either they, or their family, requested that the account be removed after they pass away.
Can I choose someone who isn’t a Facebook friend as a legacy contact?
No. You can only choose a legacy contact who’s also a Facebook friend of yours.
Someone chose me as a legacy contact, but I don’t want to be one. What do I do?
There are no official pathways to take, but you should probably contact that person and let them know.
If you only find out that you are a legacy contacts after someone passes away, remember that you are not required to do anything at all if you don’t want to. A Facebook page will be memorialised without you having to do anything.
Unfortunately, there is no way to pass on the responsibility.
How do I request content from the Facebook account of someone who has passed away?
Content that was previously visible on Facebook will remain the same as it was before, while legacy contacts can access some additional information when the account holder lets them.
In rare situations you can request additional content, but will need to provide evidence that you’re an authorised representative and a court order.
How do I add, change or remove a legacy contact?
Go into Settings, and then into Security. Look for Legacy Options.
My account has been memorialised and I’m still alive. What do I do?
There’s either been an unusual mistake, or a family member might have requested that your page be memorialised for some reason. Contact Facebook and let them know.