Protect Your Digital Legacy
Access to Online Data
Most of us now have some sort of on-line presence, be it through multiple social media platforms or just storing photos in the cloud. It is becoming increasingly important to think about what happens to this ‘digital legacy’, and who will have access to it, when we are gone.
Remember, many of these platforms and services cannot be accessed without the passwords, so make sure someone knows how or where to find these. There are a number of companies who store and manage passwords securely, with arrangements for access by a trusted individual when required.
Each platform has its own terms of service, so it is imporant to look at each site individually. Alternatively, there are companies who can curate your digital presence for you, but they are expensive.
Summary of Main Platforms
Here is a summary of a few of the main platforms:
Apple Devices & ICloud
Apple accounts are non-transferable and rights to content terminate on death unless otherwise required by law. In order to obtain access, Apple requires that the next of kin obtains a court order that names them as the rightful inheritor of their loved one’s personal information. If you want to be sure that photos can be viewed after you death, make sure you keep copies on a memory stick or hard drive, or share them with a trusted family member or friend.
For information on how to request access to a deceased family member’s account, see Apple Support information.
Facebook allows a person to appoint a Legacy Contact who, on their death, can either delete their account or set up a memorial page. A Legacy Contact does not have access to messages the account holder may have sent.
For more information, see Facebook Legacy Contact.
X (formerly Twitter)
Next of kin must present a copy of their ID and a death certificate to have the account deactivated. Twitter is unable to allow access to anyone, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. For more information see X’s information.
Policies regarding access and requirements for closing accounts vary between providers:
Gmail – Gmail require a copy of the deceased’s ID and death certificate. In ‘certain circumstances’ it ‘provides content from a deceased user’s account’. For more information, see Google support.
Yahoo – For information on what happens when someone dies and how to close an account see Yahoo support.
Microsoft – For more information on what happens when someone dies and how to close an account see Microsoft support.
People are choosing to be remembered, or to ‘live on’, in new and sometimes quite remarkable ways. This field is developing all the time, but some of the recent innovations are:
Chatbots – Create a ‘virtual you’ from texts, social media posts and other information, that can converse with friends and relatives after you are gone.
Afternote – Create a message for your loved ones that will be delivered after your death.
Facebook – Your facebook account can be memorialised.
Virtual Graves and Memorials – Where families can post photos and memories and pay their respects.
For more in-depth information on how to manage your digital legacy, go to:
Recording and Storing Information
As well as your online presence on various platforms, there are other, secure ways to digitally record and store images, important documents and other information. For more information, see our section on Digital Lockers.