Most people know they need to have a will, and that it’s a good idea to pre-plan their funerals and make other arrangements because one day, every one of us will die.
But there’s another aspect of planning that needs attention also — your online life — the Federal Trade Commission said Friday
All the digital files, photos, posts and other accounts you leave behind might cause a lot of inconvenience – even fraud or identity theft – for your loved ones to clean up.
Here are a few tips from the FTC to figure out a plan for your online life after death.
- Count your accounts. Make an inventory of your digital life, including accounts for email, social media, blogging, gaming, and cloud storage. Set up a spreadsheet or other file to keep track of each site’s name, URL, your user name, password, your wishes for each, and other information that might be necessary for access. Some of your accounts may involve money – either real-world or online currencies – and may require additional attention. Don’t attach your inventory to your will which becomes a public document after your death.
- Get in the know – now. Many accounts will let you make arrangements now or name someone to manage the account after your death. Research your options.
Who can help? You might want to name a digital executor to handle all these tasks after your death, preferably someone who has experience with online accounts and will understand how to carry out your instructions – or make decisions about issues that you might not have foreseen. You can select a friend or family member to be your digital executor or you can hire a third-party service to help you.