What is your digital death & afterlife going to look like?

Did you know that Facebook has around 300 million accounts belonging to deceased persons and that it is anticipated for this to be in the billions within decades? 

This recent article highlights the importance of proper estate planning which considers all necessary aspects in 2020 (Year of the Apocalypse) – including managing your digital grave and afterlife.

With an increase in our online use and corresponding uptick in personal information being transmitted and stored via online means, it is crucial that on death our sensitive information is identified and secured.

We also need to address the accumulation of our valuable assets online, forming part of our net worth.

Plus, as we live more publicly online, considerations of our legacy must also extend to a digital perspective.

 – We outline some of the ways to help manage your digital death and afterlife – 

  1. Make note of what your digital assets are, including where they are located and how to access, keep this information updated (and secure!), ensure that it can be located on your death by your trusted person(s).                                                                                                  
  2. Decide what you would like to happen to:
    1. Data stored locally and on cloud, message/email, photo sharing accounts;
    2. Digital assets with value;
    3. Social media and other public profiles – and whether you want an online memorial and in what form.                                                                                                                                    
  3. Ensure there is a Power of Attorney and Will in place so there is a named person responsible who will be able to act with authority on your death, and better yet, ensure these documents specifically consider and address digital assets (and who will be responsible – this may be a ‘digital executor’).                                                                           
  4. Consider the privacy and security measures of the services you already have and when signing up for in future in the context of your digital afterlife.                                                         
  5. Determine what archives you want to make of your online digital footprint (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are just some of the providers who allow downloading of archived data).                                                                                                                                            
  6. Consider what tools there are with providers to address your digital legacy – such as:
    1. Google’s Inactive Account Manager
    2. Facebook Memorialization Settings and appointing a Legacy Contact
    3. Other services such as digital asset storage and password managers                                          
  7. Revisit all of these above on a regular basis in consultation with your estate planning lawyer – this is an area of great change that will require reconsideration and updating.
 – Some Further Resources – 

Whether or not you want to formalise your digital intentions (hint: you should!), there is a wealth of information online to help you identify and map out your digital footprint and legacy.

This worksheet by Everplans may be useful to you to consider what forms part of your digital estate and how you want to manage it.  Also interesting is their checklist, Identify & Eliminate Skeletons In Your Closet – for you to summarise everything you might want to have deleted, erased, or destroyed by someone you trust after you’re gone!

Also, this list of services collated by the Digital Beyond may help to plan your digital afterlife.

See also the ACCAN guide ‘Death and the Internet’ (2013) and the Choice article on Digital Estate Planning (2016).

DISCLAIMER (of course, we’re lawyers!) – the services mentioned in this article are not endorsed by us and we provide no recommendations about their security, suitability or appropriateness for your circumstances – we just highlight them in order for you to consider and investigate further, or because they provide resources that you may find useful.


Reach out if you’d like to further discuss your estate planning – you can book online for a free conversation here or complete a website enquiry here.



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