While Facebook has recently developed user-friendly options for managing your personal profile in the event of your death, the company has yet to develop any streamlined way to handle your business accounts once you’re gone. Indeed, a Google search of “what happens to my Facebook account when I die” turns up tons of hits related to personal profiles, but hardly any covering business pages.
Facebook currently allows your personal profile to be deleted, memorialized, or you can appoint a “legacy contact” to manage the account upon your death. But Facebook is hardly limited to personal profiles—indeed, practically every company now has a Facebook business page.
Facebook business pages not only serve as a powerful PR and marketing vehicle, but they also allow companies to generate revenue through advertising and online storefronts. Seeing that these pages have far more tangible value compared to personal profiles, it’s puzzling why the company has yet to to develop similar options for managing them in the event of the account owner’s death.
But given that roughly 8,000 Facebook users die every day, it’s clear these pages are being dealt with in some way, so we did some research to see what we could find. After combing through Facebook’s Help pages and community forums, along with various other websites, we’ve come up with a few ways your Facebook business page can be handled in the event of your death.
Until Facebook develops a simpler process for dealing with your business account, you have three basic options:
1. Have your business page deleted through an admin: If you have no interest in your company continuing after you’re gone, you can have its business page deleted. However, this process is not the same as it is for your personal profile.
Unlike personal profiles, Facebook business pages allow you to name administrators, called admins, who have complete power to manage the page, including shutting it down. Given this, the easiest way to have your business page deleted would be to name another person as admin before your death, and instruct them to permanently delete your business page when you’re gone.
Or you could forego naming an admin and simply instruct a trusted friend or family member to use your admin login information to delete your business page once you pass away. Of course, this means you’ll have to leave that person your business page login info and ensure they know how to find it in your absence.
2. Have your business page deleted without an admin: If you have no admins in place other than yourself when you die, your business page can still be removed. However, because there’s no official way for you to personally request the page to be shut down upon your death—as there is with personal profiles—you’ll need to delegate that job to someone else. And it will have to be handled in conjunction with your personal profile.
Although the company used to allow users to create stand-alone business pages, Facebook now requires you to set up a personal profile before you can create a business page. In light of this, Facebook will not take any action on your business page until your death is confirmed and your personal profile has been modified to reflect this fact.
So you’ll first want to decide how your personal profile will be handled upon your death. As mentioned earlier, you can have your profile deleted, memorialized, or you can name a legacy contact to manage the account.
At this point, the most efficient way to delete your business page in this manner would be to name a legacy contact, who can first delete or memorialize your personal profile. Once that’s done, the contact can then request your Facebook business page be deleted as well.
3. Keep your business page going: Seeing that many companies continue operating after the original owner’s death, you may want to keep your Facebook business page up and running—at least until the company is sold or a new owner takes over. As with deleting your page, the way to go about doing this will depend on how your account is managed at the time of your death.
If you’ve named one or more admins, they can simply continue managing the page. Or they can allow a new admin to sign up and have them take over.
If you haven’t named an admin other than yourself and your family or executor has no access to the page’s login info, the process of managing the page will be much the same as deleting your page without an admin.
First, your personal profile will have to be deleted or memorialized, and from there, your legacy contact or another trusted individual should be able to make themselves admin and manage the page. This is because when the only admin of a page or group dies and Facebook learns of it, your admin status will be removed, and a notification that a new admin is needed will appear on the page’s timeline.
However, once Facebook learns of your death, it can take up to 3-4 weeks for your own admin status to be removed, allowing someone else to sign up. So until that happens, no one will be able to update the page.
Include all of your digital assets in your estate plan
Whether you plan to have your business sold once you’re gone or hand the reins to an heir, you should not only include its physical assets and equipment in your estate plan, but its digital assets as well. And spelling out how the company’s Facebook business page should be managed after you’re gone is just the tip of the iceberg.
From company websites and online stores to cloud storage accounts and financial assets like cryptocurrency and PayPal accounts, there’s a ton of online property to plan for. And with only a few laws currently on the books governing estate planning for digital assets, it’s important that you have trusted counsel to advise you on the latest options available.
A Family Business Lawyer® can help you inventory all of your company’s digital assets and put in place the optimal estate planning strategies to ensure they are preserved and passed on exactly the way you want, no matter what. Contact one today to learn more.