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Estate planning with Facebook? New “legacy” feature on Facebook raises questions

Blog, Trust & Estate Planning

Posted in on February 24, 2015

Facebook has served as a catalyst for school and family reunions; hook-ups and break-ups. With its newest creation, a legacy function, the social media site has, in a small way, entered the arena of estate planning. Or has it?

The new function enables users to name a person as their legacy for when they pass on. The Facebook legacy is empowered to essentially manage the deceased’s account. This can include such things as: writing a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message); responding to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook; and updating the profile picture and cover photo. The legacy also has the power to take down somebody’s Facebook page after they die.

“By now, we have all known somebody who has a Facebook page or is on some other social media site and has passed away. Facebook’s approach is proactive in that it enables people to essentially nominate a personal representative to manage for their Facebook page to a trusted family member or friend,” said Elissa Burton, an attorney at Baker, Braverman, & Barbadoro, P.C.


While running somebody’s Facebook site may not sound like estate planning, it does present significant responsibility to the legacy. Particularly when you consider that many Facebook users have been posting notes, images and videos to the site for five to 10 years.

“The legacy contact function raises some potentially intriguing scenarios for those who have created a will and/or have done some estate planning,” said Burton. “Does the designated legacy contact have superior authority over the decedent’s Facebook page than a personal representative named in the decedent’s will? It’s an interesting question.” For more information click here: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/02/adding-a-legacy-contact/

Burton adds, ““It is important for individuals to be aware that designating a legacy contact for your Facebook page does not equate to nominating a personal representative for your estate and is not a substitute for proper estate planning.”

Social media policies and issues are one topic Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. attorneys cover in their Lunch ‘n Learn speaker sessions.