“Happy Birthday Friend, I hope it’s a great one” was the message posted on a relative’s Facebook timeline. Typically this wouldn’t cause a second look, but the post was to a recipient that had passed away a few years prior. The message was surrounded by other Facebook friends who were remembering the deceased with memories of a well-lived life which made it even more awkward.

During September, FIFS is providing tips to help get your financial ducks in a row. When taking measures to provide loved ones with resources to handle your affairs, remember to include your social media profile in addition to online accounts, usernames, passwords. Where is this data currently stored? On a piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or a password manager app? Are you the only one that knows?

Securing personal data on social media is important after someone has passed. Fortunately, Facebook has options for managing or deleting accounts for someone who is gone. You can follow four steps to securing this data.

Step 1:  You decide if your Facebook account is to remain open or if someone should delete it after your passing. Keep in mind if you choose to have it deleted Facebook will require adequate proof of your passing. Some acceptable forms of proof are a death certificate, last will and testament, estate letter, and obituary.

Step 2:  If you chose to have your Facebook account remain open, you can ask that it be changed to a “Memorialized” account. A Memorialized account is a place for friends and family to gather and share memories. It is differentiated by the word “Remembering” shown next to the person’s name on the profile.

Step 3:  Assign a “Legacy Contact” person you trust to look after your Facebook account when your account is memorialized. A Legacy Contact can accept friend requests; change profile and cover photos on a memorialized account, and pin a tribute to the profile. They can also remove tags, delete tribute posts that are deemed inappropriate, and even request the removal of the account. You must be 18 years or older to select a Legacy Contact.

Hopefully, these steps will make it clear when someone is gone, and eliminate the embarrassment of an inadvertent “happy birthday”. It is also one less decision your family will need to make and one more duck that’s in its row.

Chad Yoder, CIC, CISR
Partner, Personal Insurance Advisor