Death might be the last taboo, but most of us accept that we must give the subject some serious thought and planning. However, while there are a lot of people who take out life insurance policies and write a Will, there are far fewer who give any thought to the online life they will leave behind. Emma Myers from Saga Legal, a company who have compiled a free Digital Legacy Guide, says:
“As we continue to live more and more of our lives online, it’s become increasingly important to start planning for our virtual afterlife when we pass away.”
Social media accounts can prove particularly painful for loved ones trying to cope with your death. For example, you might show up as ‘Attending’ events that you agreed to go to weeks and weeks ago and friends will be reminded to wish you a happy birthday, they might even be told what age you are turning. You can imagine how much hurt this could cause. The security of sites is also a concern. Ms’ Myer says:
“Accounts registered with everything from social media pages, email providers, online retailers and online banking contain sensitive information that should be removed. This is especially true where banking information is involved.”
These days people shop, bank, rent movies and buy music online, plus there are websites that could be taking money from your account that might not even occur to your family. For example: auction sites, anti-virus software, recruitment agencies and gambling sites may continue their service, not knowing you have passed, unless your family are:
A) Aware of the account
B) Have the access details so they can close it
Write a directory of all your online accounts and the details needed to access each account, as well as what you would like to happen with each account (for example Facebook offers the option of turning a deceased person’s account into a memorial page). Store this information with your Will, in the Letter of Wishes. A Letter of Wishes is an informal document in which you can write anything you want to, so it’s the perfect place to include your Online Directory.
You should also think about composing a last ‘tweet’ or Facebook post to go out after your death and include it in your Letter of Wishes. There is a lot of pain when people are taken suddenly, without warning. Family members feel that they did not have the chance to say goodbye. If you have written one last tweet to go out to the world after your death, at least they will never have to wonder what you might have said to them, had you known what was just around the corner.