A Guide to Digital Legacies

July 10, 2023

Losing a loved one is a difficult experience, and in today’s digital age, it’s important to consider what happens to their digital presence and online accounts after they pass away. Creating a digital legacy plan can help ensure that their online presence is managed according to their wishes and provides a way for family and friends to remember them. Here’s a guide to digital legacies that can help you navigate this process.

Compile a list of online accounts

Start by making a comprehensive list of all the online accounts and digital assets that the person has, including social media profiles, email accounts, online subscriptions, and websites they manage.

Appoint a digital executor

Designate someone as a digital executor who will be responsible for managing the deceased person’s digital legacy. This person should be someone the individual trusts and who is comfortable handling digital affairs.

Review terms of service and privacy policies

Familiarise yourself with the terms of service and privacy policies of the various online platforms and services the person used. Some platforms have specific policies for handling accounts after death.

Specify your wishes

Clearly document your wishes for each online account and digital asset. This may include instructions to delete, memorialise, or archive accounts, or to pass on specific information to loved ones.

Store your digital legacy plan securely

Keep a copy of the digital legacy plan in a secure location, such as a password-protected document or a trusted digital storage service. Make sure the digital executor and other relevant individuals know how to access it.

Share relevant information

Provide the digital executor with the necessary information to carry out your wishes. This may include login credentials, two-factor authentication codes, and instructions for accessing and managing different accounts.

Utilise platform-specific tools

Some platforms provide features to manage digital legacies. For example, Facebook offers a legacy contact option that allows someone to manage a memorialised profile.

Consider professional services

If you prefer, there are online services available that specialise in managing digital legacies, they can help with account closures, data backups, and ensuring your wishes are carried out.

Regularly review and update

Periodically review and update your digital legacy plan as your online presence changes. Add new accounts or a digital legacy plan as your online presence changes. Add new accounts or digital assets and revise your instructions accordingly.

Communicate with loved ones

Let your family and close friends know about your digital legacy plan and what they can expect. Provide them with the information they need to access your digital assets if necessary.

Remember, it is important to comply with legal and ethical considerations when managing someone’s digital legacy. Familiarise yourself with the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, as they may affect how digital assets are handled after death.