Death and your digital content. Blimey Jo, bit morbid, are you feeling alright?
Yes, yes, I am fine but you know, I was reminded about a post I wrote years ago about what happens to your online stuff if you die. When I checked it over I realized it needed a serious update. It’s a little talked about topic, but really important, so here we are…
Why You Need To Think About Your Digital Content After Your Die And How Your Loved Ones Would Deal With It All…
Back in 2013, a blogging friend of mine died in a tragic accident along with her husband. They were survived by their tween kids, it was, of course very sad but let me share something that most people never even think about that made the whole situation so much worse…
Kathreen was a digital content creator, she had a popular blog, wrote books and fun, educational magazines for kids (for which I was a contributor).
After the accident, no one was able to access any of her digital content and this turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. Her blog and digital goods were still selling, she had payments going into Paypal. Many people went to buy her products so the family would have money to deal with the funeral etc. but no one in the family could actually access anything.
I don’t actually know what happened in the end, Kathreen and I were ‘blogging friends’ so I don’t know her family, I do hope that they eventually managed to sort it all out.
What it did do was spur me into action to see what I should be doing if anything happened to me. I wanted to know what happened to digital content if you die!
I am pretty sure my husband wouldn’t know where to start if he had to deal with all my business stuff!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I may get a percentage of the sale, at no cost to you, if you choose to buy something.
Start With A Password Keeper
First things first, passwords. Gone are the days when you had one simple password and you used it for everything. Please don’t tell me you have them written down somewhere safe with no back up!
Now, if you are like me, it is impossible to keep track of all the separate passwords for all-of-the-things. This is where LastPass saves the day.
It uses ONE main password and stores all your passwords plus important information such as your social security numbers, bank details etc. It will create super strong passwords for you and auto fills in login boxes when you use it.
It is a game changer! But a word of warning….
DON’T forget your main password because there is NO PASSWORD RESET – ask me how I know! (Luckily I managed to get in via a different device and change the password before being locked out forever!)
All you need now is to keep your master password somewhere that your nearest and dearest can access so that they can get into your accounts if need be.
Use Google’s Inactive Account Manager
It is amazing that Google has this fantastic service yet most Google users have no idea it exists. It is a great start to having some control over you digital content if you die
What is Google’s Inactive Account Manager? Assuming you have a google account, the service monitors your activity and if you don’t login for a set period of time, say 3 months it sends you an email and text message. If you don’t reply to the email then it will send an email to the people you have nominated.
it is super easy to set up, it’ll take you a few minutes. You can do it now…
Log into your google account and then go to this page or you can access it by going to your Profile/Manage your account/Data and personalization/Make A Plan For Your Account.
Once you are in you can choose how long you want for the inactivity notification to kick in. I choose 3 months because it would be really weird if I didn’t check in with my emails in that amount of time.
You will also add your phone number and a recovery email. They will contact you multiple time both via email and TXT if your account becomes inactive.
Choose Who To Notify And Who Will Have Control Of Your Digital Content If You Die.
You can add up to 10 people to the list. Choose wisely! You can also decide who gets to access your Google related data. I HIGHLY recommend that you talk to whomever you choose, just so they know!
It would also be a good idea to have someone who is tech savvy rather than leaving your uncle who has only just got the hang of text messages be left in charge.
Back to Google… you then add their phone number and email address and you can add a personal message. I found this bit quite hard to write, because assuming that the inactivity manager has kicked in, it means that I am not around anymore!
This is where you can add the password to Lastpass or any other relevant information that your loved ones may need to deal with your online stuff. I do suggest adding several people just on the unfortunate event of a group disaster, or in the case of my friend, both husband and wife.
I often see people posting that it’s OK because their partner knows how to deal with it all but what if…?
You can also decide if you want to delete the account automatically.
What Happens To My Social Media If I Die?
This is why I needed to update the post, a lot has changed over the last few years. In a nutshell, each platform appears to have its own rules and there does not seem to be a universal way to deal your death and your digital content.
Facebook Memorialized Accounts
If a user on Facebook dies then you can appoint a legacy contact (before you pop your clogs, obviously!) to look after your account or you can have it deleted permanently. Your account can then be Memorialized and your legacy contact can update information etc. You can also choose to have your account deleted when you pass away.
Facebook does require a death certificate and/or proof that the person dealing with the account is the deceased persons lawful representative.
Instagram Memorialized Accounts
Instagram also have a memorialized option and again you need to show proof of death. Immediate verified family members can also have the account removed. If you have a birth certificate, death certificate or proof of legal representation then you can fill out this form to get the procedure started.
Twitter Deactivated Account
With Twitter, they will deactivate an account if a user dies on request from a family member or legal representative. You will need to send in your own ID and a copy of the death certificate.
What About Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn etc?
As of writing, there doesn’t appear to policies in place for these platforms other than writing to them with proof of death and they may, or may not delete the account.
If you have left all your passwords with a responsible, web savvy individual then they can go in and delete the accounts for you etc.
To make it easy for your loved ones, leave a note on what you want them to do with the information they need to carry it out. It sounds rather morbid but it’s the kindest thing you can do for family and friends that are mourning.
What happens To Your PayPal Account If You Die?
Only the legal executor or administrator of the deceased estate can close the account. Once Paypal recieve the required information they will either transfer the money to the linked Paypal bank account, write a cheque or transfer the money to the legal custodian.
One thing to note is that PayPal is an international company that has to abide by numerous laws, which differ depending on where the account is based. For example, there are restricts on a Japanese based account that doesn’t apply to the US.
Your best bet is to navigate to this page and then to the country of where the account is based and check the regulations from there.
Go to the HELP page and put the following into the search bar (you may need to translate the line)
“How do I close a deceased person’s PayPal account?”
This will bring up a page like this with those countries requirements.
When you think about all the online stuff going on these days, banking, point cards, the million and one different things we are logged into and signed up for it can be a chaotic mess. This makes it uber important to be thinking about death and your digital content and what you need to have in place.
If you are running a business and even if you are not, it would be a good idea to keep a document somewhere with all the details, I would keep this seperate from your passwords, you know, just to be on the safe side.
I love Airtable for this, the free version is great and it gives you lots of flexibility. You can also share the base with whoever needs to access it. It is pretty easy to create a simple table with whatever notes you need in it. (More about Airtable here if you want to know why I love it!)
If you found this helpful and would like to buy me a coffee… you can do so here!
Or if this has inspired you to get organized and prepped for the future, just in case, then brilliant!
Why not grab this meal planner whilst you are at it… since you are on a roll!