The Digital Afterlife

The Digital Afterlife

Many of us conduct much of our lives and communications over the internet by using email and professional or social networking sites such as LinkedIn, or Facebook. An issue now coming to the fore is, what becomes of our digital selves after we die? This might mean our collection of photographs or written works stored on a cloud server, or our emails and blog posts, or even an avatar in an online game. Password protection and terms of use of the relevant website will often mean that access to a deceased's online identity will be denied to others unless specific measures are taken during the lifetime of the account holder.

We now raise this issue when preparing wills for clients so that steps can be put in place for the executors to easily deal with "digital assets” after death in addition to tangible assets.

You may also wish to think about whether or how you wish to be memorialised through your online personality. This might include a notification to your contacts of your death, or the creation of a memorial page such as that currently offered by Facebook as well as a number of dedicated websites. Or, you may simply provide that your online profiles be disabled in a timely manner and protected from misuse.

The various online service providers have different privacy policies and terms of use which determine whether and how a deceased's executor may gain access to their account. Contact us if we can assist you in considering these issues and creating a plan for the treatment of your digital assets, along with the ‘real' assets of your estate. Contact Rick Shera for assistance and you might like to take a look at his presentation on the subject to the National Digital Forum.

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