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Manage your digital afterlife

Date: Feb 25th, 2020

Have you ever thought about the fact that your ‘digital estate’ may incorporate just as many items as your material belongings? Everything from music, photos, accounts, social media profiles and attempted memoirs rest on the cloud. That’s a lot of personal stuff to manage upon one’s death, much like a house full of cherished possessions. 

These days, there’s just as much need for a ‘digital executor’ as there is for one in a traditional sense. Here’s a look at how to manage your digital afterlife. 

Consider your wishes

First thing’s first, what do you want to happen with your accounts when you die? Much the same as your Will, deciding on this beforehand saves your family and friends from any doubt about your wishes. For example, do you want your social media accounts deleted or continued, perhaps for business or memorial purposes? 

Have a think about all your accounts, what they contain, and the best course of action for either continuing them or shutting them down. This way, you can leave instructions as to how you’d like them managed. As an added bonus of being prepared, this is a great way to clean up your ‘digital estate’ now, as it’s easy to forget just how many unused or ineffective accounts we have! 

Give someone your passwords

If there’s someone you absolutely trust, giving your login details to them is by far the easiest method of ensuring your wishes are carried out, whether that’s to keep or delete accounts. This is particularly true for social media sites, as even family members aren’t given access to passwords. 

This makes it easy for someone to delete your accounts, update them and keep an eye on them in case of spam or hackers. Don’t want to give anyone your passwords right now? Research password management services that let you appoint a nominee who’ll gain access to your passwords upon request, in the case of death or incapacity. 

Research the options for different social media platforms

Depending on the social media platforms you use, different rules apply to account deactivation and their ongoing use. First of all, make sure family or friends know which accounts you have and what you’d like done with them. One of the most popular options is to have an account memorialised, so the content remains visible to those it was shared with in the first place.

When you nominate a legacy contact on Facebook, through the Settings and Security tabs, that person can respond to friend requests and add posts to your profile. You can change the nominated legacy contact at any time. It’s possible to memorialise Instagram accounts, however, they can’t be changed. Twitter allows for deactivation, but no one will be able to gain access to the account unless you’ve given them your login details. 

Make a detailed list of your digital accounts and devices

Along with social media, and presuming financial and insurance accounts will be in the hands of a power of attorney, you could have accounts including:

  • Email addresses

  • E-readers

  • Shopping accounts 

  • Websites and blogs

  • Copyrighted materials

  • Video sharing accounts

  • Online storage accounts

  • Subscription accounts

  • Domain names

Keep a record of them and forward this to the appropriate people, including logins and passwords so they can be easily deactivated or managed. This includes digital assets that may require passwords to access, such as external hard drives, tablets, smartphones and digital music players. With the information about everything ‘digital’ all recorded in one place, it’ll be easy for friends and family to manage. 

Back everything up

Whether you view it as a shame or a fantastic convenience, many of us don’t have photo albums anymore, let alone handwritten letters. Consider compiling cherished memories and backing them up on a hard drive, specifically for this purpose. This way, you don’t run the risk of anything becoming lost in the cloud, in the case of complications with retrieving passwords or information. 

Source: Clientcomm library

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This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.  Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns.Any general tax information provided in this publication is intended as a guide. It is not intended to be a substitute for specialised taxation advice or an assessment of your liabilities, obligations or claim entitlements that arise, or could arise, under taxation law, and we recommend you consult with a registered tax agent.

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