Your digital legacy can be divided into two categories – your digital assets and your digital presence.
Digital assets are items in digital form that you have purchased or created over the years, such as:
- books, movies, games, music and podcasts
- domain names, websites and blogs you administer
- access codes and passwords for financial accounts and utilities
- accounts on platforms such as PayPal, Amazon and eBay.
Many assets in digital form don’t actually belong to you, even though you may have paid real money for them. You may have just bought a licence for the term of your life.
Licensing and ownership varies from platform to platform, with different rights and exemptions for different types of content. It’s a good idea to check exactly what your rights are and what you can (or cannot) do with your assets when you are gone.
Some licences can be bequeathed – which means passed onto someone else – but you will only know this if you read the end-user license agreement (you will have ticked a box at some point to say that you agree with it).
You also need to think about how devices and records that are not just used by you may be affected after you die. For example, if your family shares smart devices like home assistants, or digital file storage systems, or if you control family accounts with Microsoft, Amazon, Apple or Google, they will need to know how to access them.
Your digital presence is the identity you have developed online over time, through things like your social media activity, messages, emails, and any photographs or videos you have shared.
What would you like done with these when you are no longer here?
Parts of your digital presence like photos and records of events may mean a lot to those closest to you, so it’s important to make sure that this part of your life is also addressed.
Many social media platforms have options to memorialise your profile, including your posts and photos, so it can still be accessed by friends and family as a reminder, but not used to post on your behalf. Some allow you to nominate a ‘legacy contact’ who has limited access to manage the account. If you don’t do this in advance, your account can still be memorialised but nothing can be changed.