Digital Legacy

Posted by siteadmin on Friday 13th of November 2020.

Don’t Forget Your Digital Legacy

When we think about what we leave behind when we die, the majority of us take an approach that gives little regard to the vast amount of digital assets we hold. We write wills, take out life insurance policies, plan our funerals and arrange to leave some money aside for those we care about. All of these steps make things easier for your family at an emotionally difficult time.

However, most of us neglect our digital legacy. Few of us have measures in place to take care of our digital assets, something that has the potential to cause great problems for our friends, family and colleagues.

It used to be that people’s estates could be settled in a standardised way: a search through the deceased’s filing cabinet would yield most of the information necessary to put their financial affairs in order. Their letters would still arrive through the door, allowing their family to take care of their communications after death and, where appropriate, advise their contacts of their passing.

Nowadays, much of our financial life can take place online – with traditional paper bank statements fading into oblivion. This can make it difficult for an executor to know what accounts you hold and where to find them. What’s more, your email and social media accounts could become inaccessible and any information on them will be lost. Inaccessible social media accounts mean that the deceased’s family are unable to close the account or inform friends of their relative’s passing. If we don’t plan for these matters, we can cause our family a logistical nightmare which, on top of the emotional stress of bereavement, may be overwhelming.

Therefore, there are important steps you can take to help your family wind up your digital affairs smoothly. Keep an inventory with a close friend or relative that includes the location of any digital devices you own. This should also contain a list of all your social, personal, financial and business account details. This should include usernames, but do avoid writing down passwords and security question answers. Some form of password storage system may be more sensible.

Finally, some of your online accounts have features in place for the account holder’s death. Google, for instance, gives you the option to set up an “Inactive Account Manager”, a trusted contact with access to certain aspects of the account, such as Gmail or Google Drive. Features such as these give a trusted person a level of control over your digital afterlife and can lessen your loved ones’ distress at a crucial time.

Also, Facebook offers the ability for a for your profile to become memorialised by a nominated contact. You can nominate someone in the General Account Settings. Your nominee can request memorialisation and will have to provide Facebook with a copy of your death certificate. This means the profile will essentially be frozen in time. Your photos and posts you've shared will stay visible, and they can deal with friendship requests. Having a place where your grieving loved ones can “virtually meet” can be a great comfort to them after you have gone.

Should you wish to find out more concerning this matter, further information is available here.

Should you wish to discuss an update to your will or other areas of estate planning, please do not hesitate to contact me, Emily Pool on 07786 854048.

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