What happens to your online life when you’re gone?
It’s a confronting question – our inevitable departure – and while many of us have made plans for our assets and other responsibilities, few have contemplated their online presences.
If you are active online, a digital will is a logical extension of the existing planning process, to ensure that your wishes are respected in both the real world and online.
1. Appoint someone you trust as your online executor. This person will be responsible for closing or memorialising your social media profiles, email addresses, blogs and other online presences.
2. Clearly state in your digital will how you would like your online presence to be handled, in particular whether you would like accounts closed or memorialised if the option is available.
3. Ensure that your main will includes a provision to provide your online executor with a copy of your death certificate to ensure they have the necessary proof to take action on your behalf withyour social media profiles.
4. Prepare a detailed list of all your login details including website address if necessary, usernames and passwords, and give this to your digital executor. Ensure an updated version is provided whenever you change passwords or create new accounts.
If you would like to prepare a digital will or if you need to memorialise or close the accounts of another person, here is the process for some of the major social media and online sites:
It is Facebook’s policy to memorialise the account of a deceased person. To submit a memorialisation request, you will need the email address listed on the account and proof of death. A link to an obituary or news article is sufficient proof.
To close an account you will need the deceased’s birth certificate, death certificate and proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased or his/her estate.
It is Twitter’s policy to deactivate deceased users’ accounts. In order to process an account deactivation, you will need to provide Twitter with the account’s username, a copy of the death certificate, a copy of your own government-issued identification such as a driver’s licence and a signed, notarised statement including your first and last name, current contact information, email address, relationship to the deceased user, a link to an online obituary and the action request – to deactivate the Twitter account.
To close the account of a deceased LinkedIn member, you’ll need to submit a Verification of Death form to LinkedIn Customer Service. This form requires an email address registered to the deceased member’s account and can’t be actioned without this information.
Sorting out your online afterlife while you're still here will go a long way towards making sure your wishes are respected when you're no longer around to share them.