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Transferring Accounts via the 'Mass Transfer' UI also automatically transfers Contacts with the same owner, and presents some additional options,

When you change record ownership, some associated items that are owned by the current record owner are also transferred to the new owner.

Contacts (on business accounts only), attachments, notes, open activities, open opportunities owned by the current account owner, and optionally, closed opportunities and open opportunities owned by other users.

Is this functionality exposed in Apex or via other APIs? I was unable to find it.

I ran a simple test and simply updating Account Owner ID via Apex does not transfer the related contact. I am looking to automate post-deactivation processes for users, and account transfer is the main sticky wicket. The rest is already handled via flow.

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There isn't an API for that, and I don't see an Idea that specifically addresses this need. As a workaround, you could probably write a Process Builder to force ownership change for all contacts owned by the previous account owner, or do so in Apex Code directly.

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