Map Your Digital Legacy
The more that technology is folded into our lives, the more difficult it becomes to deal with the digital aftermath of death. In the past, it was only necessary to close bank accounts, stop magazine subscriptions, and contact service providers in order to finalize a loved one’s affairs. In recent years, due to the rise of technology, our digital footprint has expanded exponentially. From well-known online providers (Facebook, Twitter) to small accounts at almost every online retail store, you likely have dozens—if not hundreds—of accounts open on the web.
As part of your funeral planning and estate planning process, consider mapping your digital legacy. By providing a list of all the places you have accounts (along with password access to each one), you can save your loved ones a considerable amount of time and heartbreak when you are gone.
Since it is unlikely that you use every account you have, every single day, it is best to create a month-long plan (or even a quarterly plan). Each time you access an online account that requires you to sign in, simply jot it down on a spreadsheet or list (including the URL, your account ID, and your password). This master list may need to be periodically updated as your passwords change and you add or remove accounts, but once it is done, it should require minimal upkeep.
Accounts you should keep an eye on include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Email (both business and personal)
- Websites (both business and personal), including access to your web host and domain name provider
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Wattpad, Goodreads
- Telecommunication: Skype, WhatsApp, Comcast, FaceTime, cell phone carriers
- Online Gaming: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Wii, Origin, Steam
- Banks and Financial Providers: PayPal, Venmo, retirement accounts, online banking/billpay, stock and trading accounts, Bitcoin
- Food/Food Delivery: AmazonFresh, DoorDash, GrubHub, your local CSA
- Online Retailers: Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, chain store retailers, Etsy, independent retailers
- Television and Streaming: YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV Now, Sling
- Travel: Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Expedia, Truvia
It is also smart to take a moment to ensure that you name someone in your will or power of attorney who is legally able to access your online assets. Electronic communications are legally protected, so make things as easy as possible by choosing someone you trust to close (or in the case of social media, memorialize) them for you.