Chapter 1. Preparing Your Digital Footprint for an Unexpected Death

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Introduction

There are so many little details that most of us never consider that suddenly come to light in a situation like a sudden and unexpected death. The point of this portion of the report is to encourage you to take steps to manage your digital legacy now to help minimize the chaos and frustration of your loved ones if you were to suddenly die. To that end, there are a number of recommendations that can dramatically help a surviving spouse or family member in the aftermath of a sudden and unexpected death. I feel strongly that preparing our loved ones ahead of time, equipping them with the knowledge and access they need to continue on after us in the event of a sudden death, is a very strong form of love.

One thing that became apparent while researching this topic is that the digital world hasn’t caught up to the physical on the legal and logistical next-of-kin issues. Most physical property issues are quite clearly defined and ingrained in our society and laws, but online accounts and digital property are still a mish-mash of differing policies and rules. It is anticipated that over the next 10 to 20 years, it will become more codified and uniform, but for now, we are left navigating these issues on a case-by-case basis.

Making preparations and planning ahead is essential to making life easier for next-of-kin and allowing you to manage your digital legacy as you would like. I’ve included a number of ...