Here’s a scary thought: you have no clue when your last login will be. That’s not particularly enjoyable to ponder, but it should be considered. What will happen to your server, domains, websites, passwords, pictures, documents, music, and files once you leave this dimension? 63 percent polled in a recent survey don’t know what will happen to their digital assets when they pass. Get prepared for the end and get your digital assets in order should the unexpected happen.
Determine Your Digital Assets & Log Your Passwords
Include in your will all passwords for your social media accounts, blogs, websites, hosting, email accounts, retail accounts like Amazon and iTunes, merchant accounts like Paypal, photo sharing sites, utility bill sites, and anything else you can think of that requires a password. Use Keepass or a similar password retention service so you can simply include that link and login in your will.
Find Your Digital Executor
Find a tech-savvy digital executor to handle your passwords and affairs upon passing. Sure I can give my wife my passwords, but does she know how to maintain a site, where the servers are rented, and so on. Even if you trust the person, they may not be the right fit to handle your online business. Name this digital executor in your will. Include a specific plan on what to do with all your operations and loose ends.
Google’s Inactive Account Manager
Google created a feature called the Inactive Account Manager to help with your disaster plan while protecting your privacy. You can choose to have your data deleted within three, six, nine, or twelve months of inactivity. Before Google deletes your account, they will warn you via text message and email.
Select your digital executor or a trusted friend (up to 10 people) to receive your data from the following services: Photos, Blogger, Drive, Gmail, Google Voice, and YouTube.
Talk with Your Server Provider
Include very specific instructions for your web host on how to handle your servers in the event of death. If this isn’t done, your domain names will expire and could eventually turn over to someone else. The host will delete everything once payment stops, especially since hosts usually are not aware when customers die. If you are a reseller, this wouldn’t just affect you; all your customers would be affected too. Include host money distribution in your will if you would like to continue renewing your service.
HostDime.com’s procedure for this situation is handled on a case by case basis. If someone has access to the deceased client’s email, they would e-mail HostDime and state who and where their services should transfer to or have the individual trying to get control over the domain(s) provide as much as the following as possible: death certificate, paid invoices to the reseller, and business registration or proof of ownership over the domain.
Leave Detailed Instructions for Social Accounts
Create a to-do list about how to handle your online identity. Determine what to do with your Facebook account. Should it be deactivated or kept up as a memorial? Facebook memorializes user profiles so posting on the wall is still enabled, but the profile won’t come up in search. Maybe you want to post a final Facebook status for your family and friends to see.
It is of utmost importance that the digital executor have all your passwords because it will be a pain to access social accounts without them. Twitter is difficult to delete; Heaven forbid your last Tweet is inappropriate. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to write every tweet like it’s your last. For deactivation, your executor must fax Twitter a copy of your death certificate, your driver’s license, and your obituary. To access the deceased’s Gmail or YouTube accounts, you will need a death certificate copy and a document saying the executor has power of attorney over the account.
You can also turn your video and photo accounts into memorials. For example, if you use YouTube and Flickr, you can create a life-spanning photo album and record a final video. Have your digital executor upload the album and video to those media platforms upon passing.
Nowadays, your electronic possessions are as important as your physical items in both sentimental and commercial value. Consider this the next time you write or update your will.
Jared Smith is HostDime’s SEO & Content Strategist. This article originally appeared in the now defunct Web Hosting Industry Review.