old guy

What happens when a FamilySearch User passes away?  What happens to their account? 
What happens to the items they have uploaded to FamilySearch?

 

 

This question gets asked again and again over the months on the FamilySearch community - - but all so often the answer that is given, even though it may specifically and concisely  answer the direct question,  usually does not really answer what the person is truly  trying to wrap their brain around – as to “How to ensure that their records live on” .  People often don’t realize the alternate questions they really should be asking or see the answer to what their real question should be.

 

Here are some topics  below that are important to understand and share with others – as it relates to access to FamilySearch accounts and Family Tree records for deceased users.  The key is to clearly understand this issue – BEFORE you or a fellow researcher is "six feet under".  Anyone of any age or health status – should clearly understand and apply the discussion here

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Note that FamilySearch is a collaborative database - - and that for records that are entered for deceased persons (into FamilySerarch Family Tree)  such records are by the intrinsic nature of the collaborative system - accessible to all other FamilySearch Users - with no impact as to whether or not the user who entered such data is alive or becomes deceased. 

Most of the discussion below is in relation to records entered for living persons into FamilySearch Family Tree - as well as items uploaded as part of FamilySearch Memories (photos, documents etc.) - especially ones linked to living persons or not linked to anyone at all.

Also be sure to understand the slight difference between security for those Family Tree profile records that are in the "private space"  and memories items that have been marked as "Private" - the two are technically not the same thing and there are slight nuances between the two.  "Memories" are technically not in the private space - but if marked as private - are indeed kept private - even after death. 

 
 

 

What happens when a FamilySearch User passes away.  What happens to their account?  What happens to the items they have uploaded to FamilySearch?

The answer to this question has a very significant difference –
depending on whether the account is an LDS Member account or not.

 

1)      LDS Users.  When an LDS user passes away – usually within weeks or months the ward clerk will mark their membership record as deceased. This action will then have a domino effect on their LDS account that is used to log on to FamilySearch. The Familysearch account will be locked and no one will be able to log on to that account after that.   However before the account is locked (days after the death) – if anyone did have the user id and password – they could indeed log on to the account – and take certain actions
FamilySearch Memories:  FamilySearch Memories items that were marked as “private” – will forever be part of a “private space” that prevents other  users from seeing them.  The only exception would be if a person who had access to the account (such as a close family member with the user id and password ) was able to log on – and convert all/some “private” memories to “public”.  They could/should also make copies of URL’s for specific albums of public Memories items so that even after the account is locked – they can still access the public memories grouped by their album.  Memories items that were marked as public - continue to be public - even if they are not attached to a specfiic person. If the public Memories item has a title and description it can be found using the FIND option.  Items that are not tagged to a specific person can be tagged by another user.

FamilySearch Family Tree:  Profiles/Records for living persons created (in FamilySearch Family Tree)  by the (now)deceased user – will in virtually all cases forever be in a “private space” and not viewable by any other user.  

Please also note tip “e” – further below – that explains that LDS members can create an alternate NON LDS account – if they don’t want it locked with they are deceased.

 

 

2)      NON LDS Users.  When NON LDS users pass away  - their account stays open and active indefinitely  (unless the rare case that someone contact FS Support and explicitly requests that the account be closed – which normally there is no reason to do).  Thus a relative of the deceased (if they had the user id and password) could access the account and make any updates or changes as needed.

FamilySearch Memories: If there are any items marked as private – no one else will ever be able to see such items (UNLESS – a person with access to the account logs on and updates the privacy settings for specific items). Memories items that were marked as public - continue to be public - even if they are not attached to a specfiic person. If the public Memories item has a title and description it can be found using the FIND option.  Items that are not tagged to a specific person can be tagged by another user.

FamilySearch Family Tree:  Profiles for living persons created by the deceased user – will in virtually all cases forever be in a “private space” and not viewable by any other user – unless a person access the account and marks such previously living person as deceased.  

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     3) TIPS and SUGGESTION – to ensure records are not lost when/if something happens to you as a user.

a)       Share your user id and password only with a trusted family member, but DO SHARE it! – to be used in case anything happens to you.

b)      Be cautious of the use of the “private” flag on FamilySearch Memories.  After you are deceased, having been set private  – such records may be permanently beyond the reach of others.  If something is so sensitive it needs to be marked as private – it begs the question – why is it being uploaded in the first place.  If you do  mark items as “private” – be sure that you have an alternate copy outside of FamilySearch – and that someone else besides you also has access.

Another option besides marking an item as “private” is to leave it public but linked to a living person – but avoid any title or description on the Memories item – but use the (bottom of the page) COMMENTS field for the description.  This way it would normally not be findable via a FIND query . There are some great advantages to also include these memories items in a FamilySearch Album, a type of digital folder.  Click here for more info.  (see item “c”).  

c)       Record the URL of all Family Search Memory ALBUMS that you have created and share with trusted family. (copy and paste the url from the browser when you are positioned on the FS Memories album).   The URL can then be used to access your albums and contents by others – even after you are deceased. (the exception to this are items marked as private).  These other usrs can then tag and comment on such items.

d)      As long as an FS Memories item is public – other people can add tags and comments. Thus even after you die, if you have left memories items untaggad -  another user can still link them to a given person and can add comments etc to further clarify the background on the item.  Other users, however, cannot modify the title or description.

e)      Note that LDS users can actually create an alternate/additional FS Account that is NOT linked to their membership record  (thus not classed as an LDS account)  - and thus won't be locked upon their death. This type of account would be advantageous especially for someone entering a large amount of information for LIVING PERSONS – since the access to this account will not be closed when the user dies and thus the account could be delegated to a surviving family member who can at the right time make these records public as these people die.  One could also use such an account for all the upload of Family Search Memories items - so  that access to such account/items could be passed on to someone else even after death of  the user. 

f)       Note that sharing of passwords/accounts is usually a NO-NO.  But this applies mainly to LDS accounts – for the reason that an LDS account has access to more than just FamilySearch – and gives access to items of a financial nature – which surely you don’t want to share with others.   However – for NON LDS accounts – though this is somewhat of a gray area as to the allowable “policy/rule” – there is technically nothing preventing two people working together from creating a non LDS account and sharing its use.

g) Note that if a surviving person accesses the account of a recently deceased person - they should probably NOT mark the root person (the deceased user) as deceased in Family tree - using that one specific account.  It probably isnt even allowed by the system to mark a root person as deceased.  Rather they should use their OWN account to create/or modify a record for the deceased, mark them as deceased, and the record will then become publicly viewable to all.  

 

Keep in mind the above discussion – is totally different than a similar question of:   “What happens to a record we have created for a living person – when such person becomes deceased”.  I will answer that question (which people often get confusing and contradicting answers to) in a follow up post.

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any questions or comments - feel free to ask.

djyancey1965@gmail.com

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see the follow up post at:

http://yanceyfamilygenealogy.org/when_others_pass_away.htm