Data of the deadSo you want to deal with this now, before you die and leave your family a mess of locked-down digital assets. There are three key things you need to do, says Evan Carroll, co-author of Your Digital Afterlife.
- Make an inventory of all your digital assets.
That includes the documents on your computer, the photos on your phone,
any data stored on thumb drives or backup disks, and every online
account, including the ones you no longer use. It’s a big job, but you
don’t have to do it all at once, Carroll says. Start with the most
important things and work your way down the list. Odds are your primary
email account will be number one, since that’s typically where online
accounts send password resets. Keep reading for advice on where to store
- Figure out what you want to happen to all of this stuff after you’re gone.
Do you want your family to have access to all your emails? How about
photos? Videos and other material you’ve downloaded? There may be some
things you don’t want your loved ones to see. Decide now, and make your
wishes known to those you care about.
- Assign someone to be your digital executor. Be explicit in your will about what you want to happen to your assets. Don’t assume your survivors automatically have a right to it all, because the law varies greatly from state to state, Carroll says. On his blog, The Digital Beyond, he offers some sample power-of-attorney language to include in your will.