Yes, physical death is a given, and we should all be prepared in case something happens, for our families sake, with a will or a living trust. But, have you thought about what happens to you digitally?
Where do all of our posts, emails, websites, social networks and blogs go after we die? Do they just sit out there in cyberspace, for spammers and criminals to access? And, what kind of information would you want your family to have access – are there discriminatory things that you’d rather keep private?
More importantly, would they even be able to gain access to bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. should something unexpectedly happen? People die in accidents every day, and without some kind of guideline, how would the family be able to notify your ‘online’ contact list, or other important information?
Imagine having a difficulty such as a father in San Francisco, who lost his son in Iraq and couldn’t access his son’s Yahoo email account so he could let his friends know about the death and funeral. The father ended up in a lawsuit in an effort to gain access. He did, finally, but it was much too late to notify friends.
Most of us have ‘digital’ lives much more than we did 10 years ago. Contacts, letters, important documents and much more live in cyberspace. How do we protect our existing assets? How on earth do we expect our families to gain access without a roadmap?
That roadmap could be in the form of a ‘digital will’ and there are now companies out there who can help with this important task. An attorney would be best if he has already done your living will or living trust.
But, if an attorney is not an option, try a company such as The Digital Undertakers, or Legacy Locker – who can help get your online life in order, or My Webwill can also help creating a digital will.
Make a list
The best way to get started with a digital will is to get your online accounts and sites listed. This will also allow you to delete accounts you no longer use, as well as emails and contacts that are no longer needed. You’re family doesn’t need to wade through an ocean of useless emails and contacts.
Assembling a list is easy to do in a Word document because you can just paste the link, and access would be as easy as clicking on that link – as long as a password and user ID are included.
All in one password
Considering the fact that passwords change frequently, it might be wise to use a service, such as Ziggur, that allows access to all of your online information, using just one password. It’s safe, simple and can help your family get to the information they will need in a hurry.
Leave a legacy
Make certain that everything you leave behind is not going to upset your family. And, you can actually leave a message for them that can be delivered after your death with a service such as Lifenaut – that allows you to create a digital image and file of yourself as if you were a robot. This would allow you to leave a verbal message for your loved ones.
Most of these social sites have different requirements for death, and finding out what they are might save your family a lot of trouble. Especially since you are the account holder.
Facebook has a ‘memorialization’ opportunity, where the family can disable your account from active posts, but allow people who were close friends and family to post memorials on your site.
Other social networks will delete accounts only upon proof of death, but it’s a good idea to find out exactly what your social networks require, so that family won’t be stuck trying to figure out what it is you’d like done with your LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook or other social network account.
More things to think about are whether you want blogs or websites carried on, or eliminated altogether. And whether you’d like your legacy to remain in cyberspace or whether you’d like it all deleted.
Make certain you list these things in your digital will, and talk with your family about your wishes. They should know what you’d like to happen with your digital online life. It makes it a whole lot easier on your friends and family when there is a plan and a guideline.
Image Courtesy: Microsoft