Clear rules needed for managing digital afterlife

Go lean

A part of management is to make sure that you know what exists, what is in your control, and what is that you are not using any longer. In this case, you can also list the services you are not using anymore. Think of it as a spring cleaning !
The same thing goes for your mail box. Look at the crap that’s accumulating there: spams, never read newsletter, old mails, …  Once again, just take 5 minutes to look at those never read newsletters. Open one, find the “unsubscribe” link, repeat and voilà! You’re set and you’re declustering your inbox.

Why should you be spending efforts there? The answer is simple: you don’t want to give a huge, unsorted heritage. Plus, I guess it’s going to be worth it for you in between!

Clear rules needed for managing digital afterlife

Do an online cartography

First of all, you can use the checklist provided in the bonus part of this ebook. The list is obviously non exhaustive, and your specific interests may not be covered there. However, feel free to use it to map a first version of your digital footprint.

Another thing is that with different personalities, you may have more than one account for each service provider. Your professional twitter account can be different from your personal. be sure that your different lives do not overlap one another. It can be professional, personal, … you may want to respect the privacy of different alter egos even after your departure.

Ok, you have used the list. There’s another way to check the accounts you have, but may have forgotten. You know, the digital cluster you do have spread everywhere online. A simple way to identify the clutter you have forgotten (remember those accounts and goods, it may be a good idea to think of the pertinence of keeping them online) is to go to your favorite search engine, and to locate your email,

With only this step of listing your accounts with passwords, you can take less than an hour to avoid lots of frustration and questions for your beneficiaries. And I’m not talking about the hassle of going to the tribunal to get the documents to grant the access to your accounts, depending on the service providers policies. The more technology develops, the more services are going to be used. It means that both assets and accounts will grow in numbers and size.

Clear rules needed for managing digital afterlife

Privacy management 101

Privacy management is whole topic on its own. However, you can make sure that your texts, videos and pictures are accessible by people you have chosen. Better to spend some time now than to make it sure later and realize your mom had access to all of your college parties pictures. Actually, lawyer Blacksburg explains in a BBC article ”I shudder to think what would happen if a surviving spouse were to receive an online e-mail account and find that their deceased spouse has been cheating on them for the last 20 years or has a separate family with somebody else or has been hiding money or any of the other things that could be detrimental to somebody’s memory.”.

Clear rules needed for managing digital afterlife

online services and physical data

Online services

Most of us can pay utilities online. Gas, electricity, cable, mobile subscriptions — not to mention the endless list of paying services we have (or will have) subscribed to. You can also include web hosting, and in some cases of web entrepreneurs having online apps, you could imagine your work just taken down without asking, and without any chance to give someone the opportunity to resume your work or at least to benefit from it.

Physical data

Another issue is to be sure that the data you own on physical data will be controlled as well. Let’s say you are a writer, and your would-be best-seller still on the hard drive of a computer your family wants to sell. What will happen of the book? What if the buyer publishes it in his own name?

Or if you have critical data stored on a usb flash drive, like details of a patent, a secret recipe, music, or even very personal information? Would you like those to fall into the wrong hands?

Would you want this data transmitted, or the drives wiped clean?

What is Digital Estate Planning and Why Do I Need it?

About backups, 101

The plan now is not to have a full backup of your videos, texts, pictures, and the rest. Data loss is a thing, but the transfer of these data is a complete another.

The aim is not to be sure to leave a clean hard drive behind you, it’s more to be sure that your beloved ones will have access to whatever you were working on, or playing with.

The difference is crucial when for example talking about pictures. I don’t have anymore a single backup with all of my pictures (and I know it’s bad). However, I’d love to be sure that chosen bits in the clouds will be accessible by the persons I want to give to.