How to protect your digital legacy

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With the vast majority of us putting content online regularly, it helps to know what the best way of going about protecting this legacy is and how to make sure our loved ones can access the content we keep secure in the cloud.

Firstly, it’s worth recapping what this digital legacy can include, because the list is often longer than most assume. As well as files, films and computer game characters, even mundane-seeming things like our emails and Facebook conversations count too. This is because such content reflects what we were like when alive, and as such, holds sentimental value once we’re gone.

Once you’ve listed all components, you then need to learn what you can and can’t leave behind. For instance, an iTunes list is non-transferable after your death. You’ll need to read up or get advice on the guidelines governing each of your accounts, from social media sites to cloud-sharing platforms and online subscription games. Doing so as early as possible allows you to only put down the details of what you’re able to pass on.

The next step is to decide what content you want to be accessible once you’re gone. It’s taken as a given that everything is passed on to the next of kin by right, yet this area is still largely grey in legal terms. You may not actually want anyone to read or gain access to some of this content, and you need to specify this in writing to ensure they don’t try to later on.

As well as dictating what should and shouldn’t be accessed, you also need to leave clear instructions as to who can access what and, if necessary, for what purposes you’d rather they used it. For instance, you may want your social media platforms to be passed on to your parents to allow them to scroll through the history and remember things you did in the past, whereas you may want your World of Warcraft characters to be handed over to your sister who knows how best to go about selling them.

And finally, you have to make sure all this information – including access usernames and passwords – is kept safe with someone or an organisation you trust.