What Happens To Your Online Accounts When You Die

What Happens To Your Online Accounts When You Die

Everyone born eventually dies! An Undeniable fact about life. Therefore, it is evident and practical for people to decide before their last day, where they want their materialistic things to go, who their heir should be. But in this worry we forget about other part of their life: The digital life, which today is an indispensable part of us. The part of life that is associated with the computer and Internet.

Most of us spend substantial time in creating email account, social accounts on Facebook, Twitter and posting pictures on Instagram. All these accounts store important information. But have you ever thought what will happen to your online accounts, photos, movies, music stored online after your death? Who is going to use them or what will happen to the earnings you make via these accounts?

Digital Imprint and Death: The Issues You Need to Worry About!

online accounts

The sad reality is, individuals overlook these accounts and leave behind enormous amount of data that may be used by someone who manages to hack into their accounts. Online accounts have emotional value for some, but for bad guys the information left in abyss behind is a valuable asset, they steal it to make money, make new identities, harm other online users and much more. After knowing all this we must think about the intangible yet important part of our lives that we overlook.

You may not be able to see the consequences now, but dormant accounts are a serious risk.

Do you want your selfies, posts and videos used by someone for immoral activities? How will it reflect on you after you’re gone? Do you want to get your online identity deleted once you leave this work, like burning your old letters? How do you want your online accounts to work?

To tackle all these questions major websites and social networks are implementing policies to take care of deceased accounts. The first step towards securing your online life when you leave this world is to prepare digital inheritance.

Things You Need to Know Before Working on Digital Inheritance

setup accounts

The important thing you need to know before planning to distribute your digital inheritance is the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADA). The act that guarantees individuals the right to transfer digital possessions legally.

With technology becoming an integral part of our lives, it is important to think about our digital life that will be left abandoned after we die.  Till now only few states have considered implementation of FADA as important. But it is important to have such a law as online accounts and their content cannot be shared if a user dies, as it will be against the terms of service for the sites. But, over the years, there have been instances where individuals seek access to the online accounts of their deceased loved ones’, that they weren’t able to get due to terms and services.

In such cases FADA or similar laws helps. But till the time the law isn’t implemented users need to take things in their own hands and plan how things should work before their eventual demise.

How to Prepare Digital Inheritance?

What you want to share with your family as part of your digital identity is your personal decision. But planning beforehand is a great idea and is important. Therefore, start by making a list of files stored on your PC, your online accounts, online services you use. Now, that the list is ready it will be easy for you to shortlist the important accounts that you would like to have in your digital legacy.

During this process you may come across to your online purchases and may consider them irrelevant, but you should list them too. As this will help you to know if you want to delete membership now or if you have any ongoing subscriptions that you would like to revoke eventually. This way you can keep things in check when you are there.

Note: In all this don’t make the mistake of sharing passwords on any public records.

To help you prepare in advance, some social media services have taken and initiative. They allow you to appoint a person who can manage your account after your demise, or can take decision on your behalf when you are dead. Others allow family to manage the account even if there is no authorization given, by proving their identity and a proof of your death they allow your family to access your site. Furthermore, there are third-party services that you can use to transfer your digital assets to your heirs after you die.

Options Provided by Social Media Services to Manage Departed User’s Data

We all miss out on reading the terms and conditions mentioned while creating an account. But if you read them you will see few services mentioned in the event of someone’s death. Below we list the options provided by popular social networking sites.

Facebook let’s user choose who they would like to give control of their profile when they pass away. The appointee can either choose to remember the account or delete it permanently. Remembering account allows the heir to share one last post from the account in case they want to post a tribute. They can even change profile picture and cover photo, any posts shared before the account was memorialized cannot be edited or removed. To know more about legacy account, how it works and how to enable it click here.

Twitter collaborates with an authorized point of contact to deactivate the account after the event of death of the Twitter user. Once the family member submits the request for account deletion, he receives an email with set of instructions for providing more details to prove his identity and share deceased users death certificate. To know more about the terms of service click here. Twitter doesn’t allow to post anything or make changes to the deceased account.

LinkedIn and Twitter have the same policy for departed users’ accounts. They will close the account when requested. But it will only work when appropriate documents are provided. To know more about the documents, click here.

Google accounts that include Google+, Gmail, YouTube and Google search history give similar option like Facebook. User can decide regarding their intents for their accounts after they die.

The first step to set up a kill switch is to use the inactive account feature.  The second Google detects an absenteeism from the user, the feature is enabled, it will work in accordance with the settings you have applied. Whether it is to delete the account or to share account holder’s information with the appointee.

However, if you forget to set this feature, your loved ones can contact Google to shut down the account or to request data access. But it’s up to Google to handover the data or not. To make things easier just setup inactive account feature.

Yahoo! too allows to close the account officially after your loved one has passed away. But this can be done only by officially verified friends and family. However, you cannot request data access or account access permission. To know more about it click here.

Pinterest and Instagram accounts can also be closed out upon request by friend and family members. To learn more about Pinterest click here. For Instagram click here .

Microsoft email accounts (Hotmail, Live, MSN or Outlook) allow user to setup an appointee request, it is called a Next of Kin request. Once this feature is enabled user can decide what should happen to the account when they die -either the account should be deleted or should be active.

Desktops, laptops and smartphones all have their own policies and they differ from brand to brand. However, if you want that your family should have access to the physical drives it is suggested that you share the password with them or upload all the data on cloud to which they have an access after you die.

Other Options you can use to Share your Digital Inheritance?

Apart from setting up the features offered by various services, you can use third-party applications. Advanced Identity Protector helps to secure data like social security number, card details, bank accounts and other confidential data and using its vault feature you can save the data for your digital inheritance. To give them access to your details create a vault profile, store your details that you want they should have access to after your death and share the vault password. By doing so, you will give them access to your personal details that are added to the vault.  To download Advanced Identity Protector click below button.

Undoubtedly, the old fashioned legal services are always helpful, but there is no harm in using third party applications for securing your digital assets. They are hassle free and help you plan, also you can eradicate the risk of giving away your password to someone you don’t trust.

Hope after knowing all this you will work on securing your digital identity, so that it is not misused after your demise. It is not easy to think about your own death but this is the bitter truth of life. Therefore, plan before it’s too late.

Preeti is a technical writer with Systweak. She covers new technology and troubleshooting. She loves gadgets and is an avid reader. In her free time, she likes to travel and explore new places solo.

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