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What is a Digital Legacy?

You may or may not already be aware of the growing discussion surrounding the topic of Digital Legacies, for those of you who are not yet up to speed, your digital legacy is the digital footprint you are leaving online in the “Cloud” and your digital footprint is continuing to grow.

You might be surprised at how much of your information is already available for people to view online. For example, have you tried typing your name into a Google Search and seeing what results comes back?

I did just this recently and although I expected to see some results returned, it was quite surprising to see the amount and accuracy of the data being collated by Google ready to be served up in web search results within seconds of asking.

Try it for yourself, like me you will most likely already find references to your social media activity on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and many more. As we use the internet more and more the amount of information that is stored about us in the “Cloud” will continue to grow.

Now you are aware of the amount of information about you available online, you now need to consider how the digital legacy you are storing in the “Cloud” is going be portrayed you when you die, this is the online legacy you will be leaving your loved ones when you die.

No doubt there will be certain pieces of information that you want to leave online for your loved ones to cherish and your future bloodline to explore, things like articles & blogs you have written, photo albums you have collated, music & video collections and more. On the flip side, there will be some Digital data that you would want removing in the event of your death.

That’s where effectively managing your current digital assets and future Digital legacy comes in. Just like you manage your real-world portfolio of legacies such as art, jewellery, paintings and music collections, in your Last Will & Testament.

Do you keep track of your digital legacy?

Managing your digital world responsibly will ensure your loved ones have far fewer complications to deal with when you die and put your mind at rest you are remembered the way you wanted to be. Recently dyingmatters.org launched an initiative called final words promoting the #FinalTweets hashtag, many people have tweeted in theirs including some celebrities, this is just one example of the power of social media and the growing importance of the legacy you leave behind you.

Where do you start ?

Firstly assess what you online accounts you already have; Social media is a good starting point, but remember you may have online accounts for shopping, banking, gaming, Cloud Storage and more. It’s a good idea to write it all down, if your anything like me you will soon realise you don’t even remember the passwords to some of your less frequently used accounts.

Once you have your list of digital accounts, the first step is to get rid of anything you already know you don’t use and don’t plan to use in the future, this will help de-clutter your online world. Then with the remaining items, just like in a real Last Will & Testament, consider carefully about how you would want your data dealt with in the event of your death, for example:-

  • Who would you choose as your digital Executor or guardian ?
  • Who will be your digital beneficiaries ?
  • What do you want done with each account ?

What are your options ?

Now you are up to date with your existing online digital presence, you need to be aware of your options for the on-going management of your digital life in the “Cloud”. The main Social media networks have different procedures for dealing for dealing with their accounts, should you pass away.

Google+ Google’s inactive Account Manager is a way for users to share parts of their account data or notify someone if they’ve been inactive for a certain period of time. Google says “There are many situations that might prevent you from accessing or using your Google account. Whatever the reason, we give you the option of deciding what happens to your data. Using Inactive Account Manager, you can decide if and when your account is treated as inactive, what happens with your data and who is notified. To set up Inactive Account Manager”.

For more information on Google’s inactive account manager, go to www.google.com/settings and click on the setup link under Account Management.

facebook Face book, says it can’t provide others with the log in data for a deceased user’s account, but it does have a procedure in place for “memorializing” accounts. They state “Please use this form to request the memorialization of a deceased person’s account. We extend our condolences and appreciate your patience and understanding throughout this process. Note: Under penalty of perjury, this form is solely for reporting a deceased person’s timeline to be memorialized.

twitter Twitter has an account deactivation system, they stae on their website ” In the event of the death of a Twitter user, we can work with a person authorized to act on the behalf of the estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have an account deactivated”.

In order for Twitter to process an account deactivation, you would need to provide the following information:-

The username of the deceased user’s Twitter account (e.g., @username or twitter.com/username)
A copy of the deceased user’s death certificate
A copy of your government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license)
A signed statement including:
Your first and last name
Your email address
Your current contact information
Your relationship to the deceased user or their estate
Action requested (e.g., ‘please deactivate the Twitter account’)
A brief description of the details that evidence this account belongs to the deceased if the name on the account does not match the name on the death certificate.
A link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local newspaper (optional)

Third party providers

There are a number of third parties, digital legacy protection services around, today I will talk about one of the most established being Cirrus Legacy

Make a Will  Cirrus are a Uk company based in East Sussex, they provide a service called Cirrus Legacy. On their website, Cirrus sum it up by saying “Most of us do not make plans for our ‘digital inheritance’ when we die. So our loved ones are left trying to make sense of it all and attempting to gain access in order to save, transfer, cancel or close accounts. That’s where a digital legacy comes in. It’s a secure place to keep track of all your online accounts. You can choose what happens to your digital assets when you die, thus protecting your personal privacy and making things easy for those you leave behind.”

If like me you would ideally like to manage all of your digital account details in one place, then Cirrus will be right up your street, they provide a dedicated service to help you protect your digital legacy on an ongoing basis.

You can find out more about Cirrus Legacy by going to http://www.mindatrest.co.uk/digital-legacy or http://www.cirruslegacy.com/


Whether you choose to manage your digital legacy on an account by account basis or use a dedicated all in one service such as Cirrus legacy, I hope you have found this post useful and you now feel more enlightened about how to manage your digital legacy.