Friday, January 27, 2012

Online Life and Death

I'm going to share an interesting article about a topic I've written about recently: what happens to your online identity after you die?

We've looked at Facebook memorial pages, and the new Facebook app that allows you to create a video that will be posted after you die.

But Facebook isn't the only website to consider. We spend a lot of time online, not just socializing or surfing the web. We also shop and bank online. We store and share photos online. We write blogs. We set up automatic bill payments.

If you're like most people - including me - you've probably not made any arrangements for those accounts after you die. But it came up a while ago when I got a LinkedIn invitation from someone I knew...who had recently died.

Here are some questions to ask yourself (and your family and friends):

Who knows your passwords?
Who knows which bills you pay automatically online?
Who knows how to access your photos?
Who will control your blog?
If you've designated an executor for your estate, do they know the answers to these questions?

As it turns out, the law's a little murky on this. I was surprised to read in Alissa Skelton's article on Mashable that only five states have created laws governing the management of digital assets (such as bank accounts, websites and social media accounts) after death.

Basically what happens is that the internet doesn't know you're dead. So everything you normally do automatically will continue to be done. And those things you do yourself will not be done. It's a mess that the Founding Fathers certainly never envisioned.

So check out Alissa's article here: Facebook After Death: What Should the Law Say?

You might be surprised and intrigued.

I know: it's one more thing to do. But take a minute to at least think about it.

And then make plans, so that the family and friends you leave behind will have one less stressful task.


kathleen pooler said...

Life (and death) in this digital age certainly has become interesting!

Friend Grief said...

You know, this article did give me pause. I pay the bills in our house, and some thing are set up automatically. Some things I pay online, but not automatically. I do so much marketing online, as you know. No one knows my passwords, except me. No one knows all those bill-paying account passwords, either. It's a lot more complicated than filling out signature cards at the bank. Weird.