Estate Planning > Digital Legacies: How to prepare your digital footprint for when you die

Digital Legacies: How to prepare your digital footprint for when you die

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

The growth of technology and versatile online platforms have given us the opportunity to have our personal assets converted into numerous digital formats.

But have you ever thought about what happens to these assets when you are no longer here? And does your Will include details on what digital assets you have, and how you wish for them to be managed when you die?

Your digital legacy can be separated into two categories: digital assets and digital presence. Digital assets are those you have acquired, like websites that you control, for example. Your digital presence, on the other hand, is the identity you develop through social media, emails and photos.

All this needs to be taken care of when you die, so accounting for the ownership of your digital footprint should not be disregarded when formulating your Will. This is of course very much a question we’ve only had to think about relatively recently as a species, but it will become increasingly relevant in the years ahead due to the ongoing digitisation of society as a whole.

Upon your death, the nominated executor for your Will is responsible for overseeing your assets according to the details set out in the documentation. Adequate preparation during your lifetime will help the executor to effectively do their job and avoid the possibility of any assets being overlooked.

Adding complexity to this, social media as a platform for sharing content about ourselves has resulted in larger online trails of information being left across multiple sites.

An article published by Perth-based Murfett Legal suggests people compile a hard copy list of all their digital assets to be placed alongside their Will, including logins, with everything kept in a safe location so executors have all the information in one place.

Being prepared in this way will provide reassurance that the record of information on social networking sites is kept secure and controlled by someone you trust.

Reinforcing this need for diligence is Yeslam Al-Saggaf, an Associate Professor of Information Technology at Charles Sturt University who has conducted research in the area and stresses the importance of planning ahead.

He indicates that any profiles and accounts with your personal information attached that are neglected could be at risk of identity theft, fraud, or damage to the deceased’s reputation.

Facebook users are able to nominate a legacy contact to be granted authority over the account. The legacy contact has the power to close the account, save content, or set up the profile in memoriam of the deceased. Family or friends can also memorialise an Instagram account and have the word ‘remembering’ displayed on the profile.

It’s also worthwhile considering whether you would rather have the photos and videos uploaded to social media over the years retrieved, and then printed to be kept in the safe hands of relatives or friends.

Despite the fact that one day we will not be around, programs like Gone Not Gone offer the opportunity to remain in the presence of those we hold dear.

It enables you to live on digitally and stay connected after your passing. You can record videos, take photos, or even send pre-planned messages after you die for someone special to treasure and remember you by.

Gone Not Gone is just one participant in an industry that could well grow and gain greater attention as ideas about our digital identities continue to evolve, with the possibility of our digital presence transcending our lifespan through the innovative use of technology.

While some people may find this hard to deal with, one thing is for certain – preparing our digital footprint before we die will help give those left behind some closure, and also prevent them having to clean up any unforeseen and unpleasant situations caused by our digital legacy.

The information on this website is for general information only and are not (and nor are they intended to be) a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, nor is it used for diagnosis and treatment. You, or anyone you are concerned about, are encouraged to seek professional medical or mental health advice and treatment from suitably qualified medical and clinical practitioners and providers. 

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Digital Legacy End of Life Estate Planning Memorials Pre-Planning

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

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