Managing Your Virtual Heritage
Article revised on 28 July 2017
We are living in a digital age. Without realizing it, we manage and generate a phenomenal amount of electronic information. What will happen to your digital assets when you die? Who will have access to and inherit them?
Whether we’re talking about photos, videos, emails, music, investments, bank services or payment systems, our digital assets are increasing. They all require user names, passwords and access codes that we manage as best we can.
To prevent your digital estate from becoming a nightmare for your friends and family, here’s some advice on what to do.
1. Inventory your data
The first step is to make an exhaustive list of your accounts, profiles and other digital assets. A tip for making this laborious task easier: Create a document, and update it each time you log on, with the name of the sites you visit, the URL links, passwords, answers to secret questions, etc. After four or five weeks, you’ll have a pretty complete picture of your virtual existence. You just need to update the list regularly and, of course, keep it in a safe place.
Also, there are applications, such as True Key from Intel, which acquired the well-known PasswordBox in 2014, that can help you manage and centralize your passwords.
2. Make your wishes clear
What will happen to your Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, eBay and Bitcoin accounts when you die? With whom do you wish to leave your photos or music? Write down specific instructions: this is your digital will! You can also name a digital executor, who can be different from the executor of your will. Simply choose someone you trust who is computer-savvy. His or her mission will be to visit each of your accounts to carry out your final wishes.
3. Check with the experts
In the last years, several online services have started up to help individuals plan their digital death. One downside: These services do not all have the same level of security and confidentiality.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, we recommend you consult a trusted professional first, such as your financial security advisor or notary. They can steer you through the intricacies of digital estates and advise you on the best choices for preserving your virtual heritage according to your wishes.
Here’s to a long life for you and your digital estate!
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