More than two billion people in the world use the internet. That’s a lot of personal records, information, photos, music and videos stored online.
But what happens to all of that information – your virtual self – when you die?
Just like the physical assets that we manage through our Will such as books, records and photo albums, the information we store online is becoming equally, if not more important. The way we communicate our lives has changed.
We now have an entire generation of people who are accustomed by buying their music online. What happens to your iTunes account if you’re no longer here? Or your photo albums you shared with friends on Facebook, what do you want to happen to them if you pass away?
Recently, Facebook announced they’re adding a ‘legacy contact’ feature to the platform, where you can ask a family member or friend to manage your account if you die. It allows your contact to memorialise your account, post an update, or change your profile picture. You can also opt for Facebook to permanently delete your account after death.
Other social media providers will probably follow soon, but the feature is a timely reminder for people to consider their other digital assets, not just social media platforms, and how to manage them when they’re no longer here.
Think about your digital assets for a second. Who will have possession of your smart phone, computer, tablets and online accounts when you die? What about all the creative content you’ve stored on your Instagram or personal website?
If you haven’t thought about what to do with those digital assets, consider leaving instructions in your Will. Some Will services and legal firms allow for virtual property provisions, where you can leave instructions about what you want to happen to these assets.
Digital lives on, you won’t. Here are some ways you can protect your digital legacy, making it easier for family and friends to deal with your property:
• Plan how you want each social media, email account and subscription service dealt with when you die
• Review any ‘deceased user’ policies of your social media and email accounts
• See a legal expert about preparing (or updating) your Will, and leave instructions about how you want your digital assets dealt with
• Remember not to leave passwords in your Will, as they might change
Our virtual lives now have a greater impact than ever before, and it’s time to consider what happens to that content beyond our lifetime.
This content was written by Slater and Gordon. For more information, click the logo below: