End of life planning should include the digital world, too

When preparing a will, it is important to take into account, and plan for, your digital legacy.

End of life planning is a difficult subject to broach when the world hasn’t been turned upside down. In the middle of a global pandemic, despite it being more relative than ever, it seems even harder to think about.

For most of us, we think about end of life planning in terms of creating a will, securing burial plans and making sure that our loved ones are taken care of after we are gone. One thing that we often fail to consider, however, is our digital legacy.

The world exists just as much online as it does offline and failing to recognize that when planning for the end of life can lead to unexpected repercussions for survivors. From banking accounts to social media, when someone passes in the 21st century they leave behind a digital legacy that, if not prepared properly, can cause their loved ones many headaches long after they are gone.

Thankfully, our digital assets can be managed the same as our physical ones, so long as we make the proper arrangements. Your digital assets can be anything from photos, social media accounts and music to important documents, emails and cloud storage. And each passing generation will only become more and more dependent on technology to maintain their records, so taking digital legacies into account is important when preparing a will.

There are over 2 billion Facebook accounts in existence, and many of those accounts belong to people who are no longer with us. I’m sure we’ve all had friends or family with social media accounts pass away. Their pages are often memorialized, and it can be comforting to be able to return to those pages years later and see their faces. However, sometimes there might be important information behind those profiles that we can’t access. This is where having a digital will comes in handy.

Different platforms have different policies regarding the accounts of deceased users. Often times there is the option to delete or deactivate the page if the users have checked the right boxes. But this isn’t always the case, so a digital will provides a means of proving to the company, be it Facebook, Twitter or some other online giant, that you have the rights over your deceased loved one’s account.

Additionally, providing a current list of usernames and passwords within your will is one of the only times it is advisable to write down that information. Those vital strings of characters can mean your loved ones getting access to important records and even financial assets.

It’s no secret that preparing for the end of life is a complicated and emotional subject, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing it. But remember, in the 21st century your life exists in more than just the physical world. So when you do go down that road, remember to consider your digital legacy, too.

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