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

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

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


During your audit, you will be able to find pieces of documentations, scans, bills, and so on, that you could store safely in one place. For example, you could want to download a few sensitive mail attachment and store it into a cloud storage option, with a proper folder nomenclature. Why would you do so?

Simply for this : you’ll avoid questions like: “Is this in the mail account? On the mobile? On the smartphone? Or on a hard drive? Which USB key?”. Moreover, having your data stored on one place can avoid to use different passwords, encryptions, medias. Just be sure that your password for this cloud storage service is safe enough.

Clear rules needed for managing digital afterlife

Update a password list

Why would it be important to be prepared to give away your accounts information? Different emails providers have different policies. Google allows your next of kin to access your correspondence if they produce a proof of death ; Hotmail does the same, and asks the next of kin to show they have power of attorney. YahooMail.. simply erases your mail history.

Hence, it may be easier for everyone to get access to your mails and execute your will concerning the future of these assets.

Along with the usernames, passwords and emails potentially linked to the accounts, be also prepared to write down the security questions. Your loved ones may be or may not be the one knowing ALL of the details contained in the security questions, leading to an easy recovery of the accounts.

However, do not hesitate to segregate your different passwords in separate, password protected, lists, depending on the beneficiary of your goods. You can then store the different lists on a common storage medium (online storage, physical medium, …) and to limit the access to this resource only to your executor. It’s the same as putting different boxes with different locks for different beneficiaries, waiting in a global safe which is only accessible by you and your executor, but where your executor does not own the key to individual boxes.