What DOES happen to your Online Presence if you die?

Not a nice topic but one worth considering. Think about this scenario.

Facebook reminds your friends that it is your birthday. But you have passed away.

It is either a sad reminder to your friends and family or it is another way for them to remember how fabulous you were. Interesting point to show that having an Internet footprint, as we all do, needs to be considered before you die. Has someone deactivated your account? Did they know your password to do this? Did they set up a Facebook Memorial Page instead where they had to produce your death certificate to do so? Not nice but … worth thinking about.


What Happens to Your Online Presence if you Die?

Your sites will remain live unless you have authorized someone to take them down or perhaps to maintain them. I have a social media presence obviously with our travel site Contented Traveller. I do have a personal Facebook page and a business Facebook page. I have a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Google + account, a Pinterest account and a Skype account. I have a Youtube site; a Stumbleupon account, a Linkedin account and I know I have signed up for others that remain pretty unused at this stage .. and quite frankly I have forgotten. These are not such an issue, maybe. However, all of these need to have something done to them should I meet my demise.

Please note that I have provided links to all of my social media sites so you can share the love with me now while I am alive. I really hope I am not jinxing myself here.

My social media sites are normal for me as a travel writer, and I actually have more. Many other people will just have a Facebook account but undoubtedly this can and will cause some decisions to need to be made for you if and when you shake off this mortal coil.

You allocate your house and your belonging to someone in your will, but now it appears it may well be prudent for us to consider dealing with your social media and internet footprint before we go somewhere else.

I bring this fabulously wonderful topic to your attention because of a story that I have heard on the radio. There are now internet thieves who scour the newspapers on online social media sites, looking for people who have a departed. Apparently an internet footprint and an online social media presence are valuable. This is akin to watching the death notices in the New York Times to get an elusive apartment in this city. There are companies out there in cyber space who ‘want’ your social media presence. They appear to make money from this. Notice I said yours and not necessarily mine.

I started thinking that not even Gordon knows all of the sites I have signed up to, and this would be a vice versa situation. Does he know all of my passwords or do I know all of his. No, because these have to be changed fairly regularly, and I don’t have time to document it or to let him know. .. and vice versa, and he doesn’t always listen to me.

what happens to your online presence if you die

Facebook allows people to ‘memorialize’ someone’s account when they die. This means it is protected from theft but is a long lasting memorial to your Facebook life. It does come with its problems for your executor who will need to present a death certificate. Many social media sites will need this even to just deactivate them if the passwords are not known.

We know of sites that are still running of people who have passed away and it still sad when I see scheduled tweets months on, when I know that the person has died. Ok, I remember them when I seen them which is nice though sad, but it makes you consider the need to plan what you actually want when you leave here.

I looked this up, and it seems that solicitors and lawyers are starting to react and are offering such services to help you to add this very important clause to your last will and testament. This is not an ad as I don’t know any of them anyhow; it is just something that is worth bringing to your attention, much like What happens if you die overseas? Happy little writer aren’t I.

Don’t forget that every time you log onto anything on the Internet requiring just this – a log on and a password – then this is an online presence and needs to be dealt with.

Your online banking, your online bill paying, your secret Swiss bank accounts become tricky, but then if your executor doesn’t get to see the will until after the event – you may be in the clear depending upon your belief systems.

Many young people travelling the world probably think that they don’t need a will, as they have nothing to leave to anyone nor matters to be dealt with. However, those and this would be most of them, have an online media presence, and they need to get this dealt with.

This is my guide to what I think needs to happen with your online presence, before you die.

1. You will need to update your will by including instructions on who and how someone will manage our internet presence, your digital affairs and your social media presence
2. Write down every social media site you are a member of and the passwords for your trustee to access these.
3. Write very clear instructions about ‘how’ you want these to be managed. Do you want your Facebook account to be memorialized or do you want it deactivated? Do you want your executor to post random things about your life so that no one forgets you or do you just want to letter some hacker take it and use it for their own purposes? I have told Gordon to sell Contented Traveller, because he will be far too distraught should I die and to sell it to the highest bidder and travel on the massive profits he/she would inevitably get from this.

So, I hope that this reality check post on the weekend finds you all well and happy but aware that we need to know that our Online Presence is dealt with… when that thing happens.

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