Leaving Your Digital Assets Behind in 2023
The internet has evolved in many ways since the advent of the smartphone. And more people use social media and other websites to express themselves daily. Many elderly individuals have learned how to join their family members on social media platforms. Because of our ever-expanding online presence, it is important to have a plan in place for what happens to our digital footprint when we pass away.
What is a “Digital Footprint”
Nothing is truly gone from the internet. Messages, photos, statuses, and likes, are all a part of your presence online. Your digital footprint is all of the information about you that exists on the internet, as a result of your online activity. Generally, people think about their digital footprint only in regard to social media. But every website that you have an account on is a part of it. This includes online shopping sites like Amazon, email accounts, and subscription-based services like Spotify or Netflix.
Keeping a Record of Your Online Presence
It is important to keep a record of what websites you use, and what subscriptions you pay for. Keep a file of these websites on hand in a secure place. This should be kept off of your computer in the event of a hack, such as in a paper document or on a flash drive. Keep it secure, such as in a fireproof box or safe, along with important family documents. This type of document can help family members delete your accounts or manage them after your passing. Be sure to update the file when you sign up for a new website, or if you have to change a password.
Managing Accounts After Passing
It is a good idea to name an executor of your online accounts in your estate plan. Generally, naming your spouse or one of your children is a good idea. It is important to pick someone who is responsible and tech-savvy. The executor should be given the usernames and passwords to accounts, as well as the password for your computer logins. Instructions can include closing accounts, canceling subscriptions, and clearing files off of your computer.
Online Shopping Accounts
It is important to have them cancel accounts for online shopping to reduce risk factors in a sitewide hack. It is important to clear credit card information from shopping cart websites.
This is especially important if the money is coming from joint accounts.
Closing out accounts on subscription-based services is important to prevent money from being drawn out of the account each pay period. It is also important to delete credit card info from these sites as well.
For subscription services that your family wants to continue using, they should be given access to the account, as well as the email account tied to it. This will allow them to transfer the account to a different email if needed. It will also allow them to change the password and billing information.
Social Media Accounts
Many social media accounts have adapted ways for your loved ones to manage your account. Facebook, for example, has an option known as a “Legacy Account.” This allows you to select one of your Facebook friends, usually a close family member, and make them the manager of your account should you pass away. This lets them turn off your account, but leaves the page up for people to see. It also allows them to put a post out to their friends regarding funeral information or a memorial post.
Your cellphone has a lot of photos, videos, messages, apps, and information on it. It can be important to leave instructions for your executor on how to best deal with your cell phone. This can include deleting apps, sharing certain photos with your family, and deleting files or information. A person put in charge of your phone will also need a way to access the device. This may include leaving the PIN with them or adding them to the phone’s biometrics (fingerprint or facial recognition).
Matthew Funeral Home does not provide legal or financial advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for legal or financial advice. Consult with a professional estate-planning attorney for more information.
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.