Planning our own digital legacy is something for all of us to think about.
One website gave this helpful list of what our legacy may include:
- Years of blogging, posted messages, photos and emails that could be a wonderful memento of your life and resource for your descendants, if not important information, lost on non-renewal.
- The loss of resources and assets with a monetary value, such as affiliate marketing accounts e.g. Amazon, monetised gaming assets e.g Second Life businesses or World of Warcraft avatars (in January 2010 the Guinness Book of Records reported that the sum of £228,263 was paid for a virtual space station in the online game Planet Calypso).
- The loss of creative assets in which you have intellectual property rights, eg in music, images, designs, writings etc. Such rights exist automatically in law subject to any contractual arrangements you may have reached with third parties.
- The inadvertent breach by default of legal commitments (e.g. failure to renew domain names and website hosting, or failure to complete on auction sales) causing damage and loss to others that may become a legal liability on the estate.
- Online friends and business contacts unaware of your demise leading to the potential for additional pain to your family and friends.
- Online databases , possibly business confidential, lost on non-renewal.
- Income streams from affiliate programs and online advertising becoming lost and terminated.
- Domain names that have value becoming lost to your estate on failure to renew.
- Access lost to online funds such as PayPal or betting accounts or your loved ones simply being unaware of their existence.
So there are lots of good reasons to think about this when planning ahead. If we already have a will, we may be able to add a codicil regarding our digital legacy. If we don’t already have a will, then we can make sure our digital legacy is included right from the start.
Here is a very useful article on creating a digital will.
Lots of information in there, including an interesting point on not including passwords in your will:
“Bear in mind that wills are published once the courts have granted probate, which means that after this point anyone can get a copy of the will and read its contents, including any passwords.” Someone wanting only their executor to be able to access their passwords should therefore make them available in a separate “memorandum of wishes”, kept with the will but not publicly accessible. This also avoids you having to formally amend your will each time you change passwords.
Then there is the issue of appointing a digital executor
Another website explains:
What Does A Digital Executor Do?
A Digital Executor’s job depends on what you want done with your digital property after your death. These tasks can include:
- Archiving personal files, photos, videos, and other content you’ve created
- Deleting files from your computer or other devices, or erasing devices’ hard drives
- Maintaining certain online accounts, which may include paying for services to continue (such as web hosting services)
- Closing certain online accounts, such as social media accounts, subscription services, or any accounts that are paid for (such as Amazon Prime)
- Transferring any transferrable accounts to your heirs
- Collecting and transferring any money or usable credits to your heirs
- Transferring any income-generating items (websites, blogs, affiliate accounts, etc.) to your heirs
- Informing any online communities or online friends of your death
How Do I Name A Digital Executor?
Like a traditional Executor, a Digital Executor can be appointed in your Will. Most Wills are essentially standard templates that allow you to “fill in the blanks” of your personal preferences: Executor, guardian for minor children, beneficiaries, etc. A Digital Executor is a fairly new concept, and so many will “templates” may not yet include naming a digital executor as a necessary decision.
Free template for social media will
www.deadsocial.org is an excellent website with tons of practical advice. You can visit this link to download their free social media will template, but while you’re there, have a browse through because there is loads of information.
To be continued! There is a vast amount of advice on the internet and I’m trying to keep this manageable, but I will add to this page as time goes on.
(Last update: 17/6/15)