Have you planned your digital legacy?
When we lose a loved one, we often find comfort in the memories they leave behind. However, with many of these memories now stored digitally, modern families are in real danger of losing this precious shared history. Having access to them is so much more complicated than opening a photo album or picking a CD off the shelf.
Both The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) and the Law Society are warning that the death of someone in the digital age can lead to the loss of irreplaceable memories.
Our memories stored digitally
- Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection, that’s more than 3.5 billion people. In 1995, it was less than 1%.
- 4.3 billion people use a social network (1.86 billion of them are on Facebook).
- iTunes had over 800 Million Accounts in 2014, with more than 25 billion songs
- Google Photos had 100 million monthly active users in 2015. Their backed-up photos and videos use more than 3,720 TB of storage (the equivalent to filling up at 16GB phone with photos every day, for 637 years!)
With so much invested in the storage of our memories online, it is vital we take steps to ensure access to these treasured items are passed on after we die.
Digital legacy, digital assets and digital presence
Your digital legacy is made up of digital assets and digital presence.
Digital Assets – include music, films or books that are held digitally. These are often licensed to the user and can be lost when that person dies. It was widely reported in 2012, that Hollywood actor Bruce Willis was going to great lengths to ensure his ITunes music collection could be passed on after his death.
Many people believe that when they download media, they then own the music, book etc.
However, this is not always true. What you purchase is the license to use the media for the duration of your lifetime, which usually cannot be passed onto someone else. Some companies have made it possible to pass on your account, so it’s worth checking the T&Cs.
Online-only bank accounts, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and online investments are also considered digital assets. These form part of your estate and it’s important to ensure your beneficiaries have access to them after your death.
Digital presence – includes any social media, email or e-commerce accounts.
Policies regarding these accounts after death are constantly evolving.
- Facebook was one of the first to introduce a feature in 2009 allowing members’ profiles to be “memorialised” when they die.
- Google offers an Inactive Account Manager feature that allows you to designate up to 10 trusted contacts to be notified if your account goes inactive, and give them access to your data (with your permission).
- Instagram also allows you to memorialise an account
Five things to do before you die
In 2016 SAIF’s launched the ‘Five Things To Do Before You Die’ campaign, encouraging people to record their end of life wishes for loved ones.
- Making a Will
- Recording funeral wishes – including whether or not an individual wants to be buried or cremated, type of venue and the flowers, music and readings to be used
- End of life care and support – including details of where an individual would like to be cared for and practical issues such as who should look after pets
- Organ donation
- Keeping loved ones up to date with where all important documentation is stored, including passwords for digital and social media accounts
How do I protect my digital legacy?
Back in 2014 , the Law Society started urging people to leave clear instructions about what should happen to their digital assets after their death. It said that having a list of online accounts would “make it easier for family members to piece together your digital legacy, adhere to your wishes and could save time and money.”
However, a recent survey by Saga revealed that 87% of Britons have not planned their digital legacy and therefore are leaving family members with potentially a significant burden of time, effort and cost in finding ways to access online accounts.
This is why we created a Life Organiser.
Alongside your Will, it is vital to have a document which also lists the websites and applications that store important data about you, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email accounts, etc.
A life organiser is a document which provides an essential overview of all the information needed for your loved ones to correctly manage your affairs. It goes a long way in helping those who need to settle your affairs, or in helping you if you need to settle the affairs of others.
The pack covers:
- Personal information
- Household information
- Working life
- Credit cards & store accounts
- Life insurance
- Funeral wishes
We are often advised to regularly change our passwords which can make it tricky to keep this list up-to-date. Our life organiser provides a place where you can keep a record of what digital assets you have and offers advice on how to manage and close digital accounts after death.
Protecting your Digital Legacy may not be your preferred way to spend an afternoon, but taking a few hours to do so will save your loved ones’ stress and unnecessary difficulties.
How we can help
At Osborne Morris & Morgan, we understand how difficult these decisions and discussions can be. Our experienced advisors are always on hand to respond to any questions and are committed to providing long-term support.
Along with the preparation of fixed-fee Wills and life organisers, our team can provide advice on protecting your digital legacy. We can also advise on how to deal with someone’s affairs after they have died.
Call us on 01525 378177 or come see us in Leighton Buzzard