By Ivette Cano, Strategy & Operations Manager at Board Solutions Central America
With our lives increasingly digitized, there are new aspects we need to navigate, such as managing our digital assets and what happens to them at the time of succession. First, the term digital asset is constantly changing as new formats, technologies and innovations emerge. A "digital asset" is understood to be an electronic record in which a person has a right or interest. This includes everything from photos, videos, social media profiles to websites, software, databases, emails, and cryptocurrency wallets.
However, little is said about what happens to our digital presence once we die. Companies like Google or Facebook have started to incorporate elements of digital succession into their platforms, but the rules surrounding digital assets and their succession are still unclear.
Preparing for a digital succession can be simpler than we imagine, if, as in any type of estate planning, we follow the best practices of the subject and take enough time to organize it. Here are 4 ways to prepare for a digital succession:
- Google Inactive Account Manager
Google's inactive account manager is a secure way to end or share the relationship with Google in the event of succession. It is a tool through which users can share part of their account's data or notify someone if their account has been inactive for a certain period of time. This setting allows the user to add up to ten contacts and a personalized email; optionally, the user can grant a selected person access to the deceased person's data.
- Password Manager with Succession Settings
A password manager is a service that allows users to protect their information with a greater degree of security, as compared to, for example, the password managers linked to browsers of emails, such as the one offered by Google Chrome.
Using a password manager is not only useful for succession matters but also a valuable data security tool. A password manager offers comfort and, more importantly, helps to create better passwords, which significantly reduces vulnerability to cyber-attacks which are based on password theft or hacking.
Among the most popular password administrators, we find 1password, an encrypted and secure service which, additionally, has an "Emergency Kit" system, which is a PDF with the details of your account and a place to write your master password. This document may be printed and added to your last will or securely stored in a manner that will allow your successors to access your 1Password account.
- Profiles in Social Networks
The main giants of social networks are including alternatives that contemplate digital succession. On Facebook, you can designate a legacy contact ("legacy contact") to be responsible for converting the deceased's Facebook account to a memorial account or to decide whether to permanently delete the account. Memorial beads are a place for friends and family to share memories of a loved one who has passed away.
On the other hand, there are less conventional services for managing social networks. DeadSocial is an online service that helps people prepare the "digital legacy" that will remain online after their death. In essence, the application schedules messages that were written in life to be sent from social media accounts after a succession.
- Use specialized services in digital succession
Managing all your digital assets can seem like a tedious and painstaking task, however, there are many alternatives online that try to make the process much easier. For example, CAKE is an application that helps its users discover their end-of-life preferences and sort, store, and share them online. Among other benefits, CAKE helps manage details regarding social media profiles, fingerprints, and digital assets such as Bitcoin.
On the other hand, services such as DigitalDeath are responsible for preparing a complete inventory of digital assets (photos, social media posts, music, books) and generating instructions on accessing and disposing of these elements. This application seeks to ensure that assets are properly preserved and shared after an estate.