By Abigail Neal, Phoenix Wills Lawyer
With nearly 1 billion subscribers, chances are your loved ones have Facebook accounts. When a loved one passes, closing their Facebook account isn’t something immediately considered. However, it can quickly become upsetting if you come across a deceased loved one’s Facebook account long after they have passed. Here is how to close a loved one’s Facebook account:
Facebook has three options to choose from: memorializing the account, closing the account, or both.
Memorializing a Facebook Account
What does it mean to memorialize a Facebook account? According to Facebook,
When a person passes away, we memorialize their account to protect their privacy. Here are some of the key features of memorialized accounts:
- No one can log into a memorialized account and no new friends can be accepted
- Depending on the privacy settings of the deceased person’s account, friends can share memories on the memorialized timeline
- Anyone can send private messages to the deceased person
- Content the deceased person shared (ex: photos, posts) remains on Facebook and is visible to the audience it was shared with
- Memorialized timelines don’t appear in People You May Know and other suggestions
Often people choose to memorialize an account prior to removing it. If the deceased person had pictures or content you would like to keep a copy of, be sure to copy this information and save it to your own computer before you remove the account. You will not be able to do so after the account is removed.
Removing a Facebook Account
A Facebook account can be removed whether or not it is memorialized. Facebook will remove the account, timeline and all content and media associated with it.
How to Memorialize/Remove a Facebook Account
An immediate family member of the deceased or the personal representative (executor) of the deceased’s estate can request that Facebook memorialize or remove the account. Facebook will require that you complete an online form to memorialize the account. To complete the form, you will need the person’s full name as it appears on Facebook, the email address they used with their Facebook account (often posted in the “About” section of the profile), and the web address (URL) of the person’s profile. You will also need to describe and verify your relationship to the deceased. This can be done by uploading the deceased’s birth certificate, the deceased’s death certificate or proof of authority that you are the lawful representative of the deceased’s estate. Facebook states that requests will not be processed if Facebook is unable to verify your relationship to the deceased.
You can complete this form here.