Your Digital Legacy, what happens to all your online properties and assets when you die
I know it's nothing to do with websites but it's very important and this is based on our recent personal experiences which I feel are important to pass on.
It's a subject many of us are uncomfortable talking about but it's one we must address. If we don't then those loved ones we leave behind will have a lot of work to do cleaning up the inevitable confused mess.
This is not a HOW TO GUIDE but an awareness post following the issues in this area that were far harder and more time consuming to sort out than we could ever have imagined.
When we say "online" it's not just social media accounts, it's nearly everything from shopping to pensions, and there's a lot to consider.
I would highly recommend you look at this now, perhaps while you have some time on your hands, as there may be a lot to do. I worked with advice from my solicitor and this amazing website https://digitallegacyassociation.org/for-the-public/ Their free resources were the basis for our contingency planning for the inevitability of worse happening.
Power of Attorney
If you don't have a Power of Attorney for yourself and your family members I'd highly recommend you get them done as soon as you can. They do cost money, about £300 for the two of us including the statuary £81 per person registration fee, but they are critical in the ability for others (your delegated PoAs) to deal with your assets and admin, on and off line, once you can no longer do so. Also they are "lasting" so it's never too early to get them in place. If you wait it may be too late.
Here are some of the issues we needed to address
- Wills. How do we access them, who has them. Are we authorised to see them? Who are the executers?
- Funeral wishes.
- Digital photos held on phones, in the cloud on iCloud, Amazon, Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive and others.
- Social media accounts. Closing accounts, downloading data, grabbing photos if they are nowhere else, and more.
- Online banking access.
- Insurance documents for home, car, pet, life and others, now almost all online.
- Taxation, HMRC and Council tax.
- All other online accounts such as shopping sites.
- Online subscriptions.
- Department of Work and Pensions. They now have a service where you can add your PoA into an electronic system that all government departments can access via a secure code. See https://use-lasting-power-of-attorney.service.gov.uk/ This is really useful of you are dealing with retied family or fried as you don't have to send off the certified copies to every department. If you are setting up a PoA after July 2020 then this is done automatically, if not you will need to apply to get it done in the short term as we did. In the long term it should happen automatically but this will take some time.
- Mobile phones. Make sure others have your PIN or at least write it down in a hidden document or add it t your password manager.
- Tablets. As above.
- Computers. As above.
- Software. Do you use a money manager or accounts package? Are you paying software subscriptions.
- Websites and Blogs. Do you have a website/s, if so where, how is it paid for and accessed?
We have been using a password manager for many years now and if you asked me what software I could not live without RoboForm would be at the top of the list. There are about 10 of these password managers available so take a look online, but for $20 a year RoboForm stores all our site links (URLs), user names and passwords so we can use different secure passwords for all our accounts without the pain of remembering them. And yes we can use it on mobile and tablet as well as PC. And it integrates into all the main browsers.
Immediately you have a password manager in place you can just give the master username (don't make it obvious) and master password to your PoAs and they will have access to all your online account. This will save them many many hours of pain and make registering PoAs with the various companies concerned a far easier process.
Take a minute to listen to the BBC video below:
I hope you find this useful, it's always one of the last things we think about but dealing with the potential mess of paperwork whilst also suffering grief and stress is the last thing any one wants.