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AG's office encouraging Hoosiers to assign a legacy contact to preserve online presence after death

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Posted at 5:14 PM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 18:34:14-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Have you ever thought about what happens to your social media once you pass away? Well, the Indiana Attorney General’s office wants you to start thinking about it. Several social media sites offer users the ability to create a legacy contact for their accounts.

“Death is never something we want to think about,” Attorney General Rokita said. “However, it’s best to be prepared and gain the reassurance knowing your online presence will be taken care of by someone you love and trust.”

WRTV asked multiple people in downtown Indianapolis if they knew what creating a legacy contact was and several people didn’t even know it was an option.

"No, I've never heard of that,” Scott Harris an Indianapolis Resident said.

"No I haven't,” Tim Stephenson said. “I think I've seen it before but haven't really paid much attention."

A legacy contact is chosen by the user or owner of social media accounts Google, Apple and Facebook offer users the option to choose a trusted person to take over their accounts after they pass.

This can be used to post the dates of the funeral, notify friends through the account holder’s contacts app, and even access medical records through the account holder’s health app.

According to the AG’s office, the account holder should have an Apple device signed in with an Apple ID, have two-factor authentication turned on for the Apple ID, and be over the age of 13. An access code is then generated. The Legacy Contact must have the access code and death certificate to access the account holder’s data.

Google’s version of a legacy contact is called “Inactive Account Manager.”

Contacts will receive a notification that the account has been inactive after a specified amount of time. Contacts will receive an email with information written by the account holder during setup. The account holder can choose exactly what data they want to share with the trusted contact and how long that data will be accessible.

Facebook has a similar option, which allows the account holder to add or remove a legacy contact in the memorialization setting. After the account holder’s page is memorialized, the legacy contact will be able to make decisions for the Facebook page.

When the account holder passes, they can choose to have their account permanently deleted or appoint a legacy contact to manage their memorialized account.

These options are something that can help ease pressure on families as they navigate losing a loved one.

"As more of our lives are moved into kind of online spaces it takes some of the confusion and maybe worry and anxiety out for family members who are dealing with a lot already,” Lee Farquhar Director of Creative at Media Butler University said. “ They aren’t left asking how do I take care of this how do I handle this am I emailing Facebook to try and get control of it. "

While a majority of the people we talked to in downtown Indianapolis had never heard of a legacy contact some had but haven't chosen a designated person.

"I've seen it before just from friends and their parents, but I've never personally thought about assigning someone," Cassandra Lin said.

For people like Carlie Forman having a legacy contact for her Facebook page was something she has already arranged.

"We are all young and we don't think about what might happen tomorrow and you really don't ever know,” Forman said. “It also comes from being a true crime junkie and knowing that like if anything happened, I want to make sure that information is accessible to the police and to my family. “

She along with the Attorney General’s office hope more people will follow suit.

"Make sure that you go and have someone be connected to your account not only for safety but security for you as well, " Foreman said.

If you need to shut down the social media account of a deceased loved one, the American Red Cross has a webpage to help with that. The organization has direct links to every major social media platform - allowing you to easily submit a request to close or memorialize an account.

For information on how to do so click here.