Preparing your online estate for your death…

I’ve been busy clearing out my online clutter…and thinking about how to organise it all not just for now, but in case the worst happens.

I got my first email address when I was 19, waaaaay back in 1988, when the internet was just in its infancy. My first real website dated from 1995, from memory. I’ve been online a long time.

Since then I’ve moderated countless forums, yahoo groups (remember those?), you name it…and I’ve left a huge trail behind me in my wake.

Over time I learned the benefit of controlling my online identity, of course, and of clearing up after myself, but I still needed to do a big tidy up of my online presence, as I’m now heading back to work and I won’t have time to deal with a lot of it any more.

So over the last few days I’ve been closing down old defunct blogs, archiving old articles, cleaning up folders of digital photographs dating back decades (we bought our first digital camera in 1998), and generally clearing up.

It’s been quite a job.

A lot of the time people don’t think of our online presence as clutter. But it is. One of the big problems people are starting to face is dealing with online content after the death of loved ones.

Facebook in particular has been…difficult in releasing pages to relatives and partners, and they’re not alone. Some companies simply refuse to hand over any account without a password.

And a lot of partners and relatives simply don’t know what their loves ones even have online, let alone how to access it all or what their loved ones would want them to do with it all in the event of death.

Planning ahead: Creating an “in the event of” journal

I’m pretty organised, but not as well as I’d like to be. My husband knows most of my passwords, and could probably get in to most of my accounts. However, he probably wouldn’t know what my wishes were regarding their closure or continuance.

So…I’m going to write down my passwords in my paper journal I keep in my bedside drawer, together with a list of what and where everything is.

Yes, I know we’re all told this is bad form. Writing down passwords! Shock! Horror! But think about it for a moment. Unless there is money involved that the password accounts can access, writing down account details in a safe place is far more secure than writing them online.

By writing down what accounts (online diaries, facebook accounts, blogs etc.) you have, where they are, your usernames and your passwords for the accounts (making sure you keep the password information up to date), together with clear instructions of how you would like the accounts handled should anything happen to you, you are saving the people you care about a massive headache.

They can then tackle each account when they are ready, follow your instructions, and the job is done. Easy. If you wish, you can even write a short piece in advance that you’d like them to post in the event of your death. It’s up to you.

I think this makes sense. I’d like my readers to be informed if anything happened to me. I like loose ends to be closed. And I like to think it is kinder to give our relatives a more orderly estate to deal with than a headache and a disaster area, right when they are grieving.

It’s thoughtful to be organised, even though it sounds grisly.

These are just my views on the matter, of course. But when I think of friends who have died recently, and the chaos and cleanup they have left behind for their partners, I know it is the right path for me. I don’t want my loved ones to curse me when I’m gone, because I was too thoughtless to get things sorted while I was alive.

What do you think?



2 thoughts on “Preparing your online estate for your death…

  1. I agree. It is grisly but necessary. When my stepmother passed luckily she did not have too much online thst my father did not have passwords too. As her memory was not the best she did have them written somewhere so it was sorted…but as to the rest? I could only imagine the ordeal it would be without that access.
    Having had lost a blogger friend too, yeah, it was hard to find out as well. It is a good idea, wholeheartedly concur.

    1. I don’t want to leave a mess behind me for my loved ones to curse me for! That’s it, plain and simple. I want things to bea easy and straightforward, and for them to have good memories, not bad ones from having to clear out a lifetime’s worth of clutter.

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