Roger Lloyd Pack

Facebook users can now choose an heir to take over their account when they pass away, turning the page into a memorial and letting them respond to friend requests and edit the profile and cover pictures.

Through the mobile app, users can pick a friend or family member to take over their account after they die, but there are limitations; they cannot view the user's message inbox and they cannot log in as the account holder.

In order to register a death, someone needs to provide the person's name, the date of death and proof in the form of a link to an obituary or a death certificate. Then the nominated heir can add a message to the person's profile, which automatically changes to a memorial page.

They can change the profile picture and cover photo, and respond to friend requests from friends and family members not already on Facebook. They can then can leave a message of condolence on their wall.

User can also choose to allow their profile heir to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Alternatively, users can tell Facebook to delete their account when the social network is informed of their death.

Previously, Facebook switched accounts to a basic memorial page but these could not be modified or maintained by anyone; in some cases, this led to friends of the deceased leaving unwanted messages on their wall, with no way to remove them.

Facebook said in a blog post: "By talking to people who have experienced loss, we realised there is more we can do to support those who are grieving and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death."

These features are available for US users now but Facebook says it looks forward to rolling them out to other countries soon.