Take care of it now: tips on your digital legacy

2 min read
4. April 2024

Dealing with your digital estate can be a challenge for those left behind. It is therefore important to take precautions now.

Although death is a part of life, we rarely think about what happens to our online presence when we are no longer there. In today’s digital age, where Facebook profiles, email accounts, online banking and a plethora of digital photos play an important part, this results in a significant digital legacy. But what happens to all these digital trails when we leave this world?

What is the digital legacy?

The digital legacy includes all the data you leave behind online and on local storage media, as well as access to these data. This includes, for example, social media profiles, digital subscriptions, cloud storage and also hard drives and USB sticks. It is important to be aware of the countless digital tracks we leave behind after our death. It is therefore advisable to take precautionary measures accordingly.

You should subscribe to the ePost easyLife Academy to stay up to date.

Who inherits my digital legacy?

The general provisions of inheritance law apply in principle to your digital legacy. This means that digital data stored on a local medium come under inheritance. Online accounts are more like contracts than assets, and the rights and obligations are usually passed on to heirs. This is especially important because you may be leaving behind contracts and paid subscriptions that were arranged online. Often, these do not end automatically with your death and must therefore be terminated by the heirs.

It is advisable to take precautions in good time, for example by granting power of attorney or leaving clear instructions. This means you can ensure that your digital tracks are managed according to your wishes.

Use a password manager

A practical solution is to use a password manager. With a program such as this, you only need to remember one master password and it keeps an updated list of all secondary usernames and passwords. It is best to save this information on an external data storage device and leave the master password for your heirs.

Lightbulb-Cog--Product-Development-Lightbulb-Idea-Setting-Construction 1-1

Dos und Don’ts for the digital legacy

  • Do: make a list of all your digital accounts and how to access them.
  • Don’t: never include passwords and PINs in a document that is not securely encrypted and stored.
  • Do: appoint someone you trust to take care of your digital legacy.
  • Don’t: do not forget to regularly update your list of digital accounts and credentials. Otherwise, important accounts could be lost.

Legal grey area: the law versus reality

The law often lags behind real life, especially with regard to online digital data. Inheritance, personal rights and copyright can be linked in complex ways and may cause difficulties. For example, if a deceased sister saved her unpublished novel in the cloud, and it turns out to be a literary masterpiece. Who then decides which publisher can publish the book? Who owns any film rights?

Cryptocurrencies: a tricky part of the digital legacy

Digital assets in the form of cryptocurrencies represent a particular challenge. If you leave your heirs without access to your cryptocurrencies, they will lose access to this part of your estate. It is particularly important to make arrangements in advance with a trusted person and to store access data securely.

With this advice and the right preparation, you can design your digital legacy so that it is easy for your heirs to manage and there are no legal uncertainties. It is a precaution we may not like to take, but one that is becoming increasingly important in the digital world.

Note: This article is part of the “digital identity” series.

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think