Preserving Your Digital Legacy: Managing Social Media and Personal Content

|

Jul 1, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

Man looking at laptop

Preserving Your Digital Legacy: Managing Social Media and Personal Content

|

Jul 1, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

Preserving Your Digital Legacy: Managing Social Media and Personal Content

|

Jul 1, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

Man looking at laptop

Preserving Your Digital Legacy: Managing Social Media and Personal Content

|

Jul 1, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

Man looking at laptop

What if something happened to you?

Trustworthy helps protect and organize your family's important information, making it available to your loved ones should the worst ever happen.

What if something happened to you?

Trustworthy helps protect and organize your family's important information, making it available to your loved ones should the worst ever happen.

Social media and the content we post online serve as our window to the world, but what happens to that content and the way it’s perceived after you’re gone? It’s critical to keep your digital content up-to-date in life and create a digital estate plan, which tells your loved ones how you want your social media presence to be handled after death.

We’ll explain why it’s important to protect your digital legacy, how to create a digital estate plan, and what tasks you should perform now to ensure your digital content is always updated.

Key Takeaways

  • To preserve your digital legacy, it’s important to regularly organize and maintain your digital assets and social media presence.

  • Creating a digital estate plan will enable you to leave detailed instructions on how you want your digital legacy to be maintained.

  • Conduct regular reviews of your social media and personal content in life to build the digital legacy you want to leave behind when you’re gone.

Why Protecting Your Digital Legacy Is Important

Your digital legacy is essentially the sum of every piece of data or digital asset you leave behind after you die. So, why is it important to manage and protect that legacy?

In some cases, these online items you leave behind might be assets or pieces of information sitting on third-party sites that you don’t own. But in other cases, they might be pieces of a wider digital estate that you can pass on to loved ones.

Paul Carlson, CPA and Managing Partner of Law Firm Velocity explains:

“A digital estate encompasses all of your online and electronic assets, which can be surprisingly vast and valuable. The most common of these include your email accounts, social media profiles, online banking, and investment accounts. But it even extends to online documents, videos, and cryptocurrencies.”

Because many of the assets in your digital estate possess ‌monetary value, protecting this portion of your digital legacy is an important way to pass on generational wealth and secure the futures of your loved ones.

You’ll also likely have digital assets in your estate that possess sentimental value to your loved ones. Managing how those assets are maintained or distributed to the people in your life is another way to safeguard portions of your digital legacy.

Likewise, it’s important to consider the information sitting online and how those various pieces of data contribute to how you’re portrayed and remembered after death. This might include social media accounts, YouTube videos, articles on newspaper websites, or anything in between.

Because various pieces of legislation and company policies pertain to the removal of information or the transfer of ownership on third-party platforms, it’s critical that you understand your rights and what sort of instructions you can leave behind after death.

This ensures your digital assets are passed on as you see fit and empowers you with some control over how your memory is preserved online.

That’s why you should consider creating a digital estate plan.

What Is a Digital Estate Plan?

A digital estate plan is a document outlining the contents of your digital estate and how you’d like for those assets to be distributed or disposed of after your death. 

You’ll also often hear people refer to a digital estate plan as a “digital will.” However, for all intents and purposes, both terms mean the same thing.

Because we now live such a large proportion of our lives online, Ben Michael, an attorney at Michael & Associates, says the importance of creating a digital estate plan has increased dramatically in recent years. He explains:

Digital estate planning is something that has simply grown in prominence and necessity over recent years. As time goes on, the amount of digital assets that people have has grown exponentially, making digital estate planning more and more necessary. It also means that meeting with a lawyer to go over and adjust your will is something that needs to be happening more frequently.”

Digital estate plans can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like ‌them to be. But generally speaking, a digital estate plan will have three integral components:

  • An inventory of your digital assets

  • Access credentials for each asset

  • Detailed instructions for what you’d like done with your assets

Although that sounds relatively straightforward, creating these components can sometimes take some time and careful consideration.

How to Create a Digital Estate Plan

To help you get started, we’ve broken down the process into five simple steps.

1. Create a digital inventory

Carlson explains:

“The first thing you need to do when creating a digital will is take stock of all your digital assets. Basically, make a comprehensive list of all your online investments and accounts, including usernames and passwords.”

Take your time to make sure nothing gets missed or excluded from your inventory. The best way to do this is to create a set of categories, which you can file each of your assets into. Consider all your email accounts, as well as social media accounts like:

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • LinkedIn

  • X

  • Snapchat

  • Youtube

  • WhatsApp

  • TikTok

Likewise, consider all of the accounts you might have with retailers, companies, or other service providers. It’s important that you document every single account you want to be passed on, removed, or maintained after your death.

Make sure to include access URLs, usernames, and passwords to access each asset. Otherwise, it may not be possible for you to execute your wishes after death.

Remember: anything you forget to include in your inventory risks being forgotten, which equates to an element of your digital legacy falling out of your control. That’s why you have to be as thorough as possible.

2. Designate a Digital Executor

After you’ve created a digital inventory for your estate plan, you’ll need to appoint a digital fiduciary (or “digital executor”).

The digital fiduciary acts as your representative, carrying out the instructions outlined in your digital will, " explains Carlson. 

He continues:

“Choosing a person who is trustworthy and tech-savvy for this role is super important. Many forget the latter and then the digital fiduciary often feels overwhelmed or has more challenges to navigate.”

3. Set up your instructions

After you’ve created an inventory of your digital assets and appointed an executor, set up the instructions you want your executor to follow after your death.

To make sure your wishes are executed correctly, it’s important to make your instructions clear and specific.

In some cases, this might mean you’ll have to set up detailed instructions for each individual asset in your inventory. For example, you might want ownership of your crypto wallet transferred to your spouse, while you’d like the contents of your PayPal account distributed among your children.

In other cases, you might be able to set up ‌blanket instructions that apply to an entire category of your inventory. 

For example, let’s say you don’t want your social media accounts memorialized after you’re gone. In that case, you’d want to instruct your digital executor to oversee the deactivation of all the social media accounts listed in your digital inventory.

4. Securely share and store your estate plan

After you’ve completed your digital estate plan, you’ll need to ensure it’s securely stored. That’s where a Family Operating System® like Trustworthy can offer some much-needed support.

Trustworthy is a digital vault that enables you to upload, create, and store digital documents. 

You can leverage Trustworthy’s collaborative features to grant access to documents like your estate to relevant parties like your lawyer or immediate family members. They’re then able to review your estate plan to ensure everyone is on the same page concerning your digital legacy and how you’d like your estate handled after you’re gone.

Even when sharing collaborative documents like your estate plan, everything on Trustworthy is kept under lock and key using 256-bit AES encryption keys.

Want to learn more? Check out Trustworthy’s range of security features.

According to Carlson, it’s equally important that you consider how your digital estate plan is integrated into your wider estate planning. That’s because a digital estate plan isn’t legally binding in isolation. He advises:

“It’s essential to include these instructions in a legally binding document, often integrated with your traditional will.”

5. Regularly review and update your digital estate plan

Think about how often you set up new accounts with various websites or apps. It’s fair to say that your digital inventory runs the risk of becoming out-of-date fairly quickly. That’s why it’s essential that you conduct regular audits of your digital estate plan.

What does a regular audit entail?

First and foremost, ensure your inventory is up-to-date. Add any new accounts, remove any that you’ve disposed of, and double-check that your login credentials are still the same when updating your inventory.

Then, look through the instructions you’ve left your executor. 

If you’ve added any new assets to your inventory, create a new set of instructions to match. Likewise, utilize your audit to review existing instructions and make any relevant changes you see fit.

Organizing Your Personal Digital Content

It’s critical to maintain and organize each asset within that inventory to make sure none of your personal content is lost or compromised.

First and foremost, that means backing up your files.

For example, are treasured family photos sitting online in just one commercial cloud service? Are important legal documents or manuscripts stored anywhere other than your laptop's local drive?

Don’t leave anything to chance. 

If you have a digital asset that’s important to you, back it up using a secure cloud-based storage solution. This will ensure your assets live on in the event that a site you store content on goes offline or you lose access to a particular service, thus protecting your legacy and precious memories for future generations.

Next, organize your digital assets so they’re easy to navigate and update in life and easy for your executor or loved ones to navigate after you’re gone.

Use a solution to categorize and tag your digital content, making it fast and simple to find what you’re looking for. 

For example, Trustworthy’s dynamic Autopilot tool uses AI to automatically categorize and tag your documents, create document summaries, and suggest file names to make the onboarding process seamless.

This frees up hours of your life organizing your personal content and streamlines the process of reviewing and updating your digital assets on a regular basis.

Finally, regularly take stock of the assets in your digital inventory. 

This may include a variety of different tasks, but you should place particular emphasis on social media. After all, this forms a huge component of your digital legacy, and it’s important to remember that each site has its own rules on how content is controlled and where ownership sits.

Make sure you regularly:

  • Review your privacy settings on social media profiles like Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn

  • Remove outdated or inappropriate content

  • Decide whether you’d like your accounts to be memorialized after you die or deactivated

It may be worth keeping a log of your changes as a separate document in your digital inventory so that you can see which platforms you’ve already updated and which social media profiles or pieces of content still need to be reviewed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my social media accounts when I die?

Each social media network has its own policy regarding how to handle the accounts of deceased users, but you can decide what happens to your accounts and leave instructions in your digital estate plan.

How can I ensure my loved ones have access to important digital assets and accounts after I’m gone?

The best way to ensure your loved ones have access to your digital accounts and assets after you’ve died is to leave a digital inventory, access credentials, and instructions for them in your digital estate plan.

Should I Include digital assets in my will?

Yes. Any digital assets with monetary or sentimental value should be included in your will as part of a digital estate plan.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

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