Have you thought about what will happen to your online accounts and digital assets when you pass away? With so much of our lives now taking place online, it’s important to have a plan in place to protect and pass on your digital legacy. Follow this expert guidance to ensure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are protected.
Why Digital Legacy Planning Matters
- Over 4 billion people use the internet globally. The average person has over 90 online accounts.
- Digital assets like photos, videos, social media, emails, and files have sentimental and monetary value.
- Without a plan, digital assets may be lost, deleted, hacked, or tied up in legal disputes.
- Proper digital legacy planning gives you control over what happens to accounts and avoids issues for loved ones.
Having a comprehensive plan in place is key to securing your digital legacy. Don’t leave it to chance.
Steps to Secure Your Digital Legacy
Follow these steps to get your digital affairs in order:
- Take inventory. List all digital accounts, assets, devices, and passwords. Use a password manager or spreadsheet.
- Assign a digital executor. Choose a trusted person to manage accounts. Provide access details.
- Review platform policies; understand the terms of service for account handling after death.
- Share plans with your executor. Walk through wishes to delete, memorialize, or transfer accounts and assets.
- Store key information securely Use the password manager or safe deposit box for login details, instructions, and wishes.
- Update estate plan: Add digital asset distribution to wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents.
- Review annually: revisit inventory, instructions, and estate plan periodically. Update as needed.
Careful planning ensures your digital legacy is handled as desired. Don’t wait to take action.
Key social media platform policies
Rules vary by platform for memorializing, deleting, or transferring accounts after death. Here are key policies:
- Facebook: Submit a special request form to have your account memorialized or permanently deleted.
- Instagram accounts can be memorialized with proof of death. Remains active but is labeled “remembering.”
- Twitter accounts can be deactivated or permanently deleted by a verified family member with a request form.
- LinkedIn requires a death certificate to close an account. The profile remains visible but memorialized.
Consult platform policies as part of digital legacy planning. Integrate wishes into instructions for the executor.
Apple Devices and Services
Apple provides specific tools for passing on access and content from Apple devices and services:
- Legacy Contact: Designate a person to access and manage Apple accounts and data after death.
- Digital Legacy Program: Legacy Contacts can request access with a death certificate and key information.
- Find My: Use to locate lost or stolen devices and remotely wipe data if needed.
- Photo Archive: Designate a person to access photos and videos and share them with friends and family.
Leverage Apple’s legacy options to protect devices and memories. Inform your Legacy Contact of their role.
Legal Aspects to Consider
- Include digital assets in estate planning: spell out account handling and asset distribution in the will, trust, and power of attorney.
- Review platform terms of service; understand account policies, limitations, and privacy rules.
- Consult an attorney. Get advice on digital asset laws and integrating plans into estate documents.
- Use digital vault storage—encrypted online tools to store login information, files, videos, etc.
- Designate an online asset manager. Assign a person power of attorney over digital assets if they are unable to manage them.
Work with professionals to cover legal aspects and compliance. Keep documents updated.
Communication is key.
- Have ongoing conversations. Discuss wishes with loved ones early and often. Make updates as needed.
- Share access instructions. Provide login details and step-by-step account management guidance.
- Educate your executor. Explain the roles and responsibilities for carrying out your digital legacy plans.
- Store instructions securely. Use an online vault or safe deposit box for executor access.
- Consider digital legacy services. Companies can help manage account closures and content.
Keep your executor informed to ensure your wishes are followed. Update as accounts change.
- Document all digital accounts and assets for your executor.
- Carefully review platform policies for account handling after death.
- Formally assign a digital executor and provide access credentials.
- Store instructions securely and give them to the executor.
- Discuss plans with loved ones and an attorney. Update the estate documents.
With proper digital legacy planning, you can protect your online presence and assets after you’re gone. Don’t delay taking action.
Handling your digital life after death takes forethought and follow-through. Use this guide to inventory accounts, know platform policies, designate your executor, document wishes, and incorporate plans into your estate. Store key details securely and communicate regularly with loved ones. Revisit plans annually.
With some time and care invested now, you can rest easy knowing your digital assets and accounts are protected and your online legacy will be handled as you desire. Don’t leave it to chance; take steps to secure your digital legacy today.