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July 2, 2020 Adrian Martinez

How to Plan For a Digital Death

Considerations for end-of-life planning

How to Plan For a Digital Death
Learn how to plan for your digital assets, profiles and persona, so your online presence is managed after you die. (Beyond the Dash)

When creating your will or planning your estate, you often think about the tangible things you can leave behind for friends and family members. You think of your collection of baseball cards, the pictures that line the walls of your home, and the book collection that you love so dearly. We find it much easier to plan for our physical departure and often forget about our digital legacy. 

How can you go about planning for your digital death? This is a topic that few people know how to approach, so here are a few tips to help you along the way: 

Prepare a List

The first thing you need to do is get organized. This means taking a few moments to think about the digital assets that you own. These can be pictures, digital books, and anything else that you own on the internet. Some of the more important places you might want to mention include: 

  • Social media accounts

  • Email accounts

  • Online banking accounts

  • Cloud storage

  • Cryptocurrencies

  • Any digital content like that found on Google Drive

You will want to make one comprehensive list of these items along with their location for quick reference. Having this information in one place makes it easy for you to see what needs to be done and ensures that everything gets passed on properly after your death. Infographic: How to Plan for a Digital Death. (Beyond the Dash)

Download Infographic

Understand What Happens

Unfortunately, you may not have as many rights to your accounts as you think you do. In the event of your death, many social media platforms have their own rules and terms that you (or your family members) must comply with. For example, Facebook will allow you to memorialize or deactivate your account. On the other hand, Twitter allows someone else to deactivate your account but only with proof of your death. 

Understanding exactly what happens with your accounts and information after your death allows you to pass necessary information on to others in how to deal with your digital death. It may not be the most fun, digging into the terms and services of these platforms, but it’s something that should not be ignored. 

Keep Your Passwords Organized

If you are like most people, you probably use a different username and password for everything. A lot of us have these saved to our computers so that we do not have to type them in each time we want to log into social media or other accounts. While this can be helpful for you, it does not help others sort out your digital death. 

Take the time to sit down with your list of digital assets and figure out your username and password combination for each one. You might feel overwhelmed by this process, and that is normal. Just imagine how your friends and family members will feel if they do not have this list made out for them after your passing. 

Name Someone to Handle Your Accounts

Just like you would pre-plan your funeral, make sure you pre-plan for what should happen to your accounts. Designate a specific person or a small group of people to handle your digital assets after your death. By naming someone specific, you can ensure that everything gets taken care of without putting the burden on your family and friends to figure out who should handle what. 

Keep in mind that there are a lot of steps in the funeral planning process. Be mindful of who you assign to which tasks. It might be best to spread the work around to multiple people to prevent overwhelming a single individual. 

Plan a Goodbye Message

Some people want to inform their friends and family of their passing in a very specific way. If you want to share this information on your social media accounts, don’t leave it to someone else to figure out how you want to frame this information. Take charge and plan your goodbye message well in advance. Type it out for your appointed social media manager and tell them when and how to share the message with your followers. 

For example, you may want to share the details of your funeral and ask that friends send donations to charity instead of flowers to the service. Small final requests can easily be put up on social media for all to see so that your last wishes can be honoured. 

With our lives increasingly moving to the digital space, online personas and accounts need special consideration when a death occurs. (Unsplash/Jonas Lee)

Planning for Digital Death

Digital death is a unique topic that is not addressed nearly as often as other prominent topics like the average cost of funerals. However, our modern world demands that more people begin planning for this type of legacy. If you have not yet organized your digital assets and appointed someone to manage them in your absence, this is a great time to do so. 

This article was contributed by Adrian Martinez.

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