Who Gets Digital Access After You Die?
Mortality has been on my mind for awhile now. Maybe it’s the EMT work I do, maybe it’s because my wife and I are expecting our fifth kid. I don’t know. But me being me, after the philosophical musings, I head directly for the problem solving. In other words, how do I to efficiently prepare my loved ones for my inevitable demise?
In particular, I gave a lot of thought to the plan for handling digital assets after my death.You may use different tools than me, I’m simply laying out what works best for me. Also, keep in mind transferring digital assets is very different from a will. It is specifically about what happens with and to digital possessions.
CON: Control, Optimize, and Notify.
So Con is giving somebody the controls like in Star Trek. Remember, when Kirk would leave he’d say, “Mr. Spock, you have the con.” This is that. I have two major apps that fall under this category: Rocket Money — which consolidates the information from all my different accounts, credit cards, checking, savings, investments, retirement funds, loans, and assets like cars or real estate. It also has a built-in service for canceling subscriptions (formerly Truebill).
The second thing is a password manager. I like Dashlane a lot. Obviously, choose the apps that work for you but you should have one for your financial accounts and one for your passwords and you should assign control to somebody else in case of your untimely passing.
Now for the optimizing part.
We want to have all of our bills on autopay as much as we possibly can, which will make things a lot easier for whomever has to manage things after we die. For any bills that are not on autopay, like real estate taxes, simply anticipate how those bills are paid by indicating which account to use to pay them.
I have a very optimized system already for how these different things are handled, how finances are handled, how my email is handled, how Voxer is handled. Still, my wife is pretty unaware of all of it because she just doesn’t need to deal with it. By the way, I don’t need to deal with a lot of it either because most things are automated. But having everything essential in two places means it will be easy for her to pass it on to the right person.
Then we get to notification upon death part.
You must lay out how you want this to be done and there’s a couple different ways to do it. The easiest one is to use a feature many password managers offer; allowing you to have secured notes. Dashlane, for example, let’s you leave a written overview of your wishes in a secured vault.
Then decide what you want to do with your email and social media. Email might be as simple as shutting the account down. It might mean forwarding to somebody else. It might be creating autoresponder that says, “Hello, this person is no longer with us,please direct inquiries here.”
Next, you want to be able to notify vendors and/or clients.
So in my case, I would put in my secured note for my wife to notify my clients on Voxer, and I could even have a prerecorded message or text. Then go into Thrivecart and cancel all accounts.
Most social media accounts allow you to assign your page or group to another person in the event of your death, in case you do not want to delete it entirely.
In my case I think, I want everything to be shut down. But that’s personal preference.Still, if you’re giving someone your password access, then they don’t really need those log-ins. But they’ll need that form of two-step authentication occasionally and this is where things get interesting. If you have two-step authentication enabled for any service that allows it, it can be tricky as usually the second step is a notification on your phone.
So give the designated person, whether it’s a loved one or a friend, the password to your Dashlane now while you’re alive. Say, “Hey, if something ever happens to me, log in as me into Dashlane.”
You can give the person something that you knows your passwords without giving them your phone. So you’re still secure. If you want to go one step further, there are a number of services that provide something called a dead man switch. There’s actually a website, Deadman Switch. It’s a service that will check in with you on a regular basis. You have to click the link that essentially shows that you’re alive and okay. And if you don’t, it sends a personal message to the recipient of your choice where you can give the Dashlane password and further instructions.
While all of this may border on the depressing, get over it. Organizing your digital assets is a profound service for your loved ones. Death is overwhelming for those left behind. Anything you can do now to soften and minimize the myriad decisions that must be made after your passing, the less painful it will be for your loved ones.