All of a sudden you’re dead and your family has no way of accessing your digital documents. How would you prevent this disaster from taking place?
It seems that all social networking sites have their own way of managing accounts after death, such as Facebook’s new feature that lets you nominate a beneficiary, and there are even professional services that have been developed so that people can nominate what happens to their accounts after death.
But no matter how hard I thought about these, they didn’t quite seem right. I wanted a better digital legacy solution, and I’m certain I have it now. Luckily, it’s even easier than you might think.
Why Would a Digital Legacy be Useful?
Do you know what happens to your data after death? When you die, are there documents and photos held on certain social media accounts or in cloud storage that you think your family might want? Are there certain services you’d like to have shut down immediately? Are you earning small amounts of money into a PayPal account? What do you want to happen to your blog?
These are the questions that need answering and preparation. The default measures social media companies have put in place for your family to access your accounts after your death probably won’t be enough.
Why Not Use a Digital Will?
The main problem with the custom-made digital will services or digital wills held with lawyers is that you need to keep them up-to-date. And personally, I know that’s a task that will pop up on my To-Do list every now and then, and I’ll postpone it for the eternal “later”, thinking I have all the time in the world to sort it out. Of course I don’t. There are services such as Legacy Locker, but for me they would suffer the same fate.
I don’t know when I’m going to die, but I know that because of this perfectly human postponing of tasks that don’t really seem that urgent, using a regular digital will solution will ensure that it’s of absolutely no value whatsoever when I do. Most services will be unusable for my digital executor because I never got around to updating it. What then is the solution? Well, something you use every day.
Using LastPass to Share Passwords
The ideal way to share access to your digital accounts is to use a service that will always be up-to-date. In my case that’s the LastPass service, as it has all the associated browser extensions and apps for my devices. Because it’s useful to me on a day-to-day basis, it will be up-to-date. This is a crucial point in my decision to use it. For you, it may be a different password manager, assuming you can share in the same way as LastPass.
With LastPass, it’s possible for all users to share passwords individually with any other LastPass user (with or without letting them see the password), and it’s also possible to share a whole folder of passwords with other LastPass users if you’re a premium user. This gives you some flexibility and plenty of options.
To share an individual password with someone using LastPass, go to your LastPass vault and search for the item. On the right-hand side, click on the people icon to share, then enter the email address of the recipient. You can check the box if you want them to be able to see the password, but I don’t recommend it.
How to Make This Work
If you trust your spouse with everything, one option would be to use LastPass to share access to all of your important accounts with them. But, if you only want to give them access after you die, here’s another option.
Create a new email account, the username and password of which are specifically to be kept for your executor to give your spouse or other family member upon your death. Then in LastPass share the account details for your legacy wishes with this email address (after creating a LastPass account using that email address). You could even email this new address with specific instructions from time to time, letting them know where to get photos from, which accounts have certain documents in them, etc.
Let your family know ahead of time that this will be happening so that they access the accounts and fulfill your wishes as soon as possible after your death. And then you’re set!
How do You Manage Your Digital Legacy?
This is just one of many options out there to prepare for your digital afterlife, but I think it will work for many people.
How do you manage the legacy of your digital accounts? Tell us your great hacks!