Preserving Your Digital Legacy: A Handy Guide

From the highs and lows of life, to what happens to our finances after we pass away, we’ve covered just about every topic imaginable here on the Knowledge Hub of the Unity Mutual site.

In this handy guide, we focus on the importance of getting to grips with preserving your ‘digital legacy’ and passing down your online assets to someone close to you.

What is a ‘digital legacy’?

You might not realise it, but by preserving your ‘digital legacy’ now, you’re doing your family and friends a favour later on.

But what does digital legacy mean?

Poppy Mardall – founder of the funeral director Poppy’s – sums it up perfectly in this piece by The Guardian. She says: “Your digital legacy consists of online accounts, precious videos and anything in between that isn’t physically stored.’

When writing your will, it’s well worth referencing your digital life. If writing a will isn’t something you’ve got round to yet, a document containing your wishes for your digital assets isn’t legally binding, but it can help your loved ones immeasurably.

If you put the necessary steps in place now, you’ll have peace of mind that everything’s in order should the unthinkable happen.

Start By Writing a List

Grab a notebook and begin pulling together a list, including important info your family might need in the event of your death. This includes basic details of your online accounts (including bank accounts and PayPal accounts), such as the name of the account, website links and any other information the bank will need from someone in the event of your death

You shouldn’t add passwords to your list. Instead, the person who you’ve assigned responsibility to manage your digital wishes will need to contact each account separately. In the case of social media accounts, they can ask for them to be either memorialised or closed.

It’s worth noting that Facebook allows you to add a legacy contact. Keeping your personal wishes in mind, your designated person can then manage your account when you die, by either deleting it or ‘memorialising’ it. Instagram has similar functionality, to help family members who have been put in charge of managing the digital legacy of their loved one. You might not be aware, but you can also add a ‘legacy contact’ for your Apple ID and for your Google account.

Do you have anything else of value on your computer or laptop? Consider things like creative work or music, for example, too.

The Guardian also advises checking the terms of conditions of any accounts and services you use. This allows you to ‘see what you can do to pass on, preserve or delete them after you have gone’.

Grant Someone the Role of ‘Digital Executor’

Who would you like to look after your digital legacy after you’ve gone?

In your will, you can appoint a digital executor – preferably someone who is tech-savvy. As outlined above, he or she will be in charge of closing, memorialising, or managing your accounts. They will also be responsible for sharing or deleting photos, videos, and any other digital assets you own.

Of course, digital assets with financial value, says Burnett Barker in this article on digital legacy, are ‘the most important digital assets to carefully consider when you pass ‘.

‘Banks typically tend to have very comprehensive policies for when a customer dies.’ continues Burnett, before adding: ‘But there are many other accounts that now contain money and the policies for these can vary considerably.

PayPal, for instance – an easy one to forget – will require evidence that one of their customers has died. They will close the account and transfer the balance to the executor of your estate or someone else named in your Will…If you do not leave a physical record of an account, your family may never even know about it.’

Keen to explore your options when it comes to savings and investments? View our range of financial products* here on our site – and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Until next time…

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