By Joan Wrolstad, AVP Trust Officer
Our devices capture so much stuff, we do not think about the consequences for when we are no longer around. What we want to do and what the law allows us to do with our digital legacy can therefore be very different things. Yet at present it is not the law that dominates our decisions about digital death. That means that platforms and corporations like Facebook and Instagram end up writing the rules. If we don’t start making decisions about our digital deaths, then someone else will be making them for us.
Here are 5 Steps you can take now to keep this from happening to you after you are gone:
- Designate an Online Executor. This person can be tasked to follow through on all the instructions you leave behind regarding your accounts and passwords. It can be different than your actual executor or personal representative.
- Create an Inventory of All Your Accounts. This means all of your accounts even those you rarely use but have an account or subscription, like an old Yahoo account or an online newspaper or magazine subscription. It also means other accounts such as LinkedIn, Google, Netflix, credit cards and shopping sites. This can be tiresome but your online executor will thank your efforts later.
- Gather your Login Information and Passwords. If you use a password manager, this process will go much faster because you can just open the software to get the information. And if you don’t have one, consider it. You can store your information in a password protected file on your computer and leave the online executor the instructions to find it. Another option is to write it down and store in a secure location, like a safety deposit box, home lock box, or even at the attorney’s office.
- Read and review Post-Death Account Management language. You will want to do this with all the platforms you are using, social media in particular. For example, Facebook has a ‘legacy’ feature that allows you to designate someone to manage your account after you pass away. Your friends and family can visit your page to share memories and photos or you can permanently delete the account. This feature, in certain platforms, may require a death certificate or evidence you have made the authority for someone to manage after your death.
- Create instructions for you Online Executor or Personal Representative. Your document should include specific instructions on how you want your accounts managed after death from memorializing, to canceling, to deleting.