Reading my co-author’s piece on the differences between a slow death and a sudden one, I started wondering about what happens to our digital assets once we pass away. Are they deleted? Are they stored in online oblivion for the rest of time? Should I be worried?
The first thing I did was check out what I had online and I was pretty shocked to see my whole life stored on a chip: photos of myself with my family and friends, every single correspondence of the past 10 years, my music collection, my hobbies and work documents and scanned copies of my certificates – thankfully the only thing missing was the ultrasound image showing my son as a foetus.
As the first generation that has to deal with something like this, I think we should really take it more seriously. Many might argue that once you’re dead, it doesn’t matter, but I still wouldn’t want others trawling through my personal data, especially when I’m no longer around to safeguard myself.
A bit of research revealed that many have had this problem and, funnily enough, it’s probably harder for your heirs to get your password to your Facebook account, than it is to get the money from your bank account – and all this was highlighted when two parents ended up in court with Yahoo! over the company’s reluctance to give them their son’s password due to their terms of service.
BUT, the good news is that there are actually easy ways to protect yourself.
Encrypted Electronic Vaults, such as oneSafe (or the ones you get pre-installed on some smartphones) can help you store your passwords and security questions, and their answers. By giving access to this vault to a trusted family member or friend, you can rest assured that whatever may happen, everything you want will be deleted.
On top of all that, in America, estate plans (which are a form of will) have now been extended to include digital assets, including Bitcoins (an online form of currency whose exchange rate is 1BTC to $425.5 – I kid you not!), online profiles and anything else one might wish to include. This way, people can leave their heirs in charge of their removal from the Internet in a lawful manner.
I’ve taken it upon myself to sort this out, and would urge everyone else to start taking care of their online assets too.
Had you ever wondered about what happens to your digital assets once you die? Do you think it’s important to take care of these things before you die? Let us know in the comments’ section below.