Your online life after death
OK, so I know you don’t really want to talk about this – but here goes: we’re all going to die someday. Maybe you’ve already started thinking ahead: planning for your funeral, the care of loved ones and disposal of your property. But what about your online life? All the digital files, photos, posts and other accounts you leave behind might cause a lot of inconvenience – even fraud or identity theft – for your loved ones to clean up. Here are a few tips to figure out a plan for your online life after death.
Count your accounts. Make an inventory of your digital life, including accounts for email, social media, blogging, gaming, and cloud storage. Keep track of each site’s name, URL, your user name, password, your wishes for each, and other information that might be necessary for access. Some of your accounts may involve money – either real-world or online currencies – and may require additional attention. Keep your inventory secure and out of plain sight. Don’t attach your inventory to your will which becomes a public document after your death.
Get in the know – now. Many accounts will let you make arrangements now or name someone to manage the account after your death. Research your options.
- Who can help? You might want to name a digital executor to handle all these tasks after your death, preferably someone who has experience with online accounts and will understand how to carry out your instructions – or make decisions about issues that you might not have foreseen. You can select a friend or family member to be your digital executor or you can hire a third-party service to help you.
Search “online life after death” or “digital” and “afterlife” or “legacy” or “executor” to learn more.
This post was updated on October 20, 2015 to note that an account inventory should be kept secure.