In today's age of social media where practically everybody has some sort of online presence, the death of a loved one triggers some responsibilities for family members that may not be typically considered.  A big question that people are asking today is “What happens to a person's Facebook account after they die?”

Facebook offers two options for handling a deceased family member's Facebook account.   A family member can memorialize the loved one's account, have it removed or both.  This article will also explain how to copy any media from the account before removing it.

Memorializing A Facebook Account

What does it mean to memorialize a loved one's Facebook account?  According to Facebook:

When a user passes away, we memorialize their account to protect their privacy. Memorializing an account sets the account privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile (timeline) or locate it in search. Friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into the account.

I see memorializing a family member's Facebook account as the first step in closing down the account.  You may want the account to remain visible for a period of time, so people can leave posts person's wall, or so you can post information about services to be held for your loved one.   When you are ready to memorialize your family member's Facebook account, you can do so by visiting the link below and filling out the appropriate information.

When you fill out the form, you will need to provide “proof of death”.  This can be done by submitting a link to person's obituary.  Obituaries published in the Arizona Republic can be found online at:  You will also need the person's full name as it appears on Facebook, the email address they used in connection with the Facebook account (often posted in the “Info” section of the profile), and the web address (URL) of the person's profile.  You will also need to describe your relationship to the deceased.   After you complete the form, Facebook will send you an email confirming that they will memorialize the account.

Copying Media From Facebook

Before removing a loved one's Facebook account, you might want to spend some time copying any media that the person posted to their Facebook account. In particular, you might want to download pictures that were posted on the person's Facebook account, since once the account is removed you will no longer be able to access or view those photos. To download photos to your personal computer, go to the person's Facebook account and click on “Photos”. From there, the person may have multiple albums of pictures you should go through. To open an album, click on the picture above the album's name. Now you will see a page with all of the pictures in the album. If you click on an individual picture, you will see a link on the right side underneath the picture that says “Download”. You can then indicate where you want to save the picture on your computer (for example in your computer's “My Pictures” file).

Removing A Loved One's Facebook Account

After memorializing a deceased family member's Facebook account, the next step is to remove the account.  You may want to wait to do this until after the services for the loved one have been held.  Due to privacy concerns, Facebook has some special requirements before it will remove a person's account:

We will process certain special requests for verified immediate family members, including requests to remove a loved one's account. This will completely remove the profile (timeline) and all associated content from Facebook, so no one can view it.

For all special requests, we require verification that you are an immediate family member or executor. Requests will not be processed if we are unable to verify your relationship to the deceased.

Examples of documentation that we will accept include:

  • The deceased's birth certificate
  • The deceased's death certificate
  • Proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased or his/her estate.

When you are ready to have your loved one's account removed from Facebook, you can click on the link below to complete the appropriate web form on Facebook.

When filling out the web form, you will need to include your full name, your email address that you use to log into Facebook, the full name on the deceased person's account and the email address associated with that account, and the web address of the deceased person's account.  You will also need state that you wish to have the account removed and include your relationship to the deceased.  Facebook states that it will not remove someone's account until it receives verification that you are an immediate family member of the deceased or the personal representative (also known as an executor) of the person's estate.   You will also be required to upload one of the documents listed above, such as a death certificate, birth certificate or proof of authority.  An example of proof of authority might be an order from the probate court appointing you as personal representative of the deceased person's estate.