Home > Uncategorized > Planning for your Digital Afterlife

Planning for your Digital Afterlife

I read about an interesting new service from the folks at Google today.  They have started allowing their customers to control what happens to their online data after a pre-defined period of inactivity.  Although you don’t have to die for it to be activated, it started me thinking about all of the places in cyber-space where my data and information might live on.  For example, this blog is controlled by me through an id and password.  If I passed away tomorrow, what would become of the entries I have made over the last several years?  How long would they continue to exist?deactivatefacebook

For all the important accounts in my life, my wife is aware of the login credentials so that online banking, retirement accounts, email, etc. would not be a problem.  But what about all those other services that I use?  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ebay, PayPal, the car insurance online account, UPS, rental cars, hotels, frequent flyer, etc.  I have no idea how long those accounts would remain active with no interaction from me or my heirs.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a surviving spouse or child to have control transferred to a new id and password.

There are certainly more accounts online than I have listed here.  Is there a mechanism out there somewhere that closes all these accounts in the event that I pass away unexpectedly?   What is the real risk of these accounts continuing to remain active after I pass?  There is certainly a risk that they could be taken over by an unauthorized party.  Would my heirs be responsible for any unauthorized transactions from accounts that I created?  Is there any case law involving digital assets in probate court? These are questions that I had never considered before.

A quick search online reveals several companies that help you plan for this.  I found Legacy Locker and SecureSafe.  I am sure there are lots of others.

I would be curious to know what the policy is for various types of accounts and what the “expiration date” is for automatic deactivation or deletion of an account.

Perhaps more companies will begin to follow Google’s lead and provide for the inheritance or elimination of online “property”.  It certainly has me thinking about what to turn off and what to leave on.   Now I just have to figure out who should inherit my blog…..

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