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Facebook introduces new option for profiles after death

Many Nevada residents neglect to consider their digital assets like their social media profiles when they begin planning their estates. However, it may now be easier for Facebook users to dictate what will happen to their profiles in the event of their deaths with the introduction of a new feature on the social networking site.

For several years, Facebook faced challenges in determining what happened to profiles after users' deaths. A previous solution was to memorialize the account, which involved leaving profiles viewable but completely freezing the account so that no one could access them, even loved ones. The company said that this upset many family members, prompting the development of the legacy contact feature.

Legacy contacts can perform a few different actions on a deceased person's profile. They may change an account's profile and cover photos, post on the deceased person's timeline and download an archive of the person's posts and photos. They cannot log in to the account, leaving them unable to delete the account or see any private messages from other users. In order for the legacy contact feature to be activated, there must be a copy of a death certificate or obituary or other evidence that the person has died. Users who would prefer their accounts be deleted after their deaths can specify this in lieu of a legacy contact.

The increasing popularity of social networking has left many people concerned about their digital legacies as well as their physical assets. Attorneys who have experience in the preparation of wills and other estate planning documents can discuss with their clients options for ensuring their wishes for these digital properties are carried out after their deaths.

Source: NBC News, "Facebook 'Legacy Contact' Runs Your Profile After You Die", Julianne Pepitone, Feb. 12, 2015

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