So much of your life happens online, so what happens to a person’s online presence after he or she dies? Between social media accounts, financial information or online banking, email accounts and websites, what happens to all of it when you die? Enter a digital legacy plan. A digital legacy plan ensures that your online presence and activities are taken care of.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Consider Your Social Media Accounts
- Step 2: Think About Your Digital Photos, Videos, Music, Journals, and Keepsakes
- Step 3: Review Your Emails, Websites, and Other Online Properties
- Step 4: List Your Online Bill Payments, Bank Accounts, and Other Financial Accounts
- Step 5: Make an Inventory of Your Digital Devices
- Step 6: Store and Share Your Preferences
You can’t simply wipe all of your information and assets away with the push of a button. Since planning and enacting a digital legacy plan requires support, it’s important to make it clear to your loved ones or appointees prior to your death.
Wonder how you can organize and share this plan in a quick, secure way? We’ll walk you through everything you should be thinking about when it comes to your digital legacy plan and how to share it with others.
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Step 1: Consider Your Social Media Accounts
Are you active on social media now? After you die, there are some opportunities for your friends, followers, and loved ones to interact with your accounts. It’s up to you whether you’d like this to happen. How active your social media accounts can be after you die varies by site. In most cases, your account can remain active unless you delete it prior to your death. Or you can appoint someone you trust to log in and delete your account after your death.
- Facebook: Do you want your Facebook account to stay active after you die? You can memorialize your Facebook account by appointing a legacy contact, or a person that will help oversee (but not directly access) your account after your death. He or she must be one of your current friends and you must submit a request that he or she must accept. Memorializing your account will make it clear to the public that your account is that of a deceased person. However, if you’d prefer to have your account deleted after you die, you can have a family member request that Facebook deletes it.
- Twitter: You don’t have to complete any extra steps if you’d like your Twitter account to stay active after you die. However, Twitter periodically deletes inactive accounts to free up unused handles and limit the chance of account hacking. If you’d like your account to be deleted once you die, a family member can submit a request. He or she will not be given direct access to your account.
- Instagram: Instagram deletes inactive accounts after a period of time. Instagram operates similarly to Facebook and Twitter because you may have one of your family members request the site to delete your account after you pass away.
- Snapchat: Appoint someone you trust to delete your Snapchat account after you die. The site does not have a formal request process, but you can leave behind your username and password. You can use tools like password managers to store your passwords for others to use after you pass away.
- Reddit: Reddit will automatically delete an account after 2+ years of inactivity. If you’d like your account to be deleted sooner, you can leave your username and password to someone you trust to delete the account. Posts and comments created by deleted accounts will still be visible, however, they will only be identified by the username “deleted.”
- Dating profiles: Whether a certain dating profile deletes inactive accounts may vary. In general, you will likely have to appoint someone you trust to delete your account after you die.
- Other social media accounts: It’s not uncommon for websites — social media or otherwise — to automatically remove inactive accounts after a significant period of time. However, you can likely access terms and policies specific to the site you’re a member of upon request if you’re unsure.
Step 2: Think About Your Digital Photos, Videos, Music, Journals, and Keepsakes
Curious what will happen to your presence in that all-knowing cloud after you die? Want to entrust your vlogs, memes, or playlists to someone in particular? These are other things to consider when making a digital legacy plan.
It may benefit you to organize these assets periodically. Leaving a mess of photos, files, grocery lists, and more for your loved ones to sift through may incite nostalgia for a while before it becomes overwhelming. Thankfully, as technology gets smarter, it’s become even easier to organize files by date, location, and more. Here are some specific questions to ask yourself:
- Who do I want to receive access to this information if I pass away?
- Is there anything I don’t want my loved ones to see?
- Is there anything I’m saving that I don’t need?
- What are my most important/cherished photos, music, etc. and how do I ensure they’re secure?
Step 3: Review Your Emails, Websites, and Other Online Properties
If you’re like most of the population, the bulk of your inbox is made of store promotions and offers. However, do you also maintain any other important digital assets via an email address, such as a personal or professional website? Think about everything that you can access via your email address. Depending on which provider you have will determine how secure it is, and may even be safeguarded by two-factor authentication.
If you’d like a specific person to access or delete this email account after you pass away, make sure they have a way to get in. You may also consider organizing your important emails, such as bank statements and more, to forward to a trusted appointee. Here are some specific questions to ask yourself:
- Do I have a secure email provider?
- Do I have any other outlying email accounts that need to be shut down?
- Do I need to list anyone as an administrator on any online properties right now?
Step 4: List Your Online Bill Payments, Bank Accounts, and Other Financial Accounts
Making it clear and easy to access any bank accounts online is perhaps the most important part of your digital legacy plan. Though other aspects of your legacy will help validate trustees, giving them access to things such as paperless billing, subscriptions, and more from the get-go will ensure the entire process goes more smoothly.
Prepare for this handoff — ensure that your passwords are not only secure, but sensical. Though auto-generated, secure passwords are convenient, they may be a pain for people to type in if they need to access your accounts on their devices.
Many online entities that require financial information are typically secure, and many require you to change your password periodically. However, you can stay ahead of the game by doing so on your own. Here are a few specific questions to ask yourself:
- What sites have I saved my credit card information on?
- What credit cards do I have saved on my computer?
- Do I have a reliable place to store my banking or financial passwords, such as a password manager?
- Do I need to share my digital legacy plan with anyone else, like a financial planner?
Step 5: Make an Inventory of Your Digital Devices
It’s likely you have a few different devices in your name, from iPads, tablets, laptops, or desktops. Are these devices password protected? Make sure you leave this information to your loved ones or digital legacy appointees. Though you may not actively use all of your devices, your loved ones may wish to repurpose, donate, or trade them in. Here are a few specific questions to ask yourself:
- Is there any information on these devices that you need to delete?
- Is there any information on these devices you want your loved ones or appointees to keep?
- Is the software on these devices up to date?
- Do your loved ones have access to chargers and other accessories?
Step 6: Store and Share Your Preferences
So many components go into creating a digital legacy plan. You may be wondering how to store and share it all. Cake makes it easy to do so without overwhelming yourself or your loved ones.
All you have to do is create a free end-of-life planning profile, and instantly share your wishes with a loved one via email.
Giving Your Loved Ones (and Yourself) Security
The biggest benefit of making and sharing a digital legacy plan is the peace of mind it can provide yourself and your loved ones. After all, your digital assets may be saturated with snippets and memories that will incite nostalgia for years to come. Your loved ones and appointees will likely treasure the responsibility.
You may not know what tomorrow holds but you can at least guarantee that your online presence and assets fall into the hands of someone you trust.