Okay, it’s December – and it might even snow soon here in Denver . . .
End of year planning means list-making, right? So here’s a follow up to a post I published on April 30th about passing on in a wired world.
1. Make a list of all your digital “stuff”
2. Tell someone you trust where to find it
3. Don’t forget to update it regularly (new information and changes to existing)
These are the top three things I suggest doing – even if my use of the term “stuff” is vague. Why would I use such a vague term here? Well, there are more than a few types of digital “property,” some of which may look like property but not be property (e.g., a license). This area is relatively new, evolving and fraught with uncertainty. This is why I think the better policy is to include all property on a list and have it “sorted out” later on if need be.
Relating to (2), you could consider someone taking care of your online identity/footprint/stuff as your “digital executor.” I’m thinking historically, back to the many writers who entrusted their unfinished works or compilations to their named “literary executors.” In one case with which I’m familiar, a friend of a decedent was previously instructed to “wipe” the hard drive and all storage devices on the decedent’s computer and smartphone. Not all of us want to live forever digitally or leave a trail for other’s to track. It’s best to decide these things in advance.
Okay, what about your Facebook account – maybe you’ve heard there are memorial pages available . . . . This access depends on many factors as well. For example, a coroner investigating a suspected suicide may not be able to access the deceased person’s Facebook account to help with the investigation. Read Jim Lamm’s Oct. 11, 2012 blog post that discusses this very issue in the context of the Stored Wire and Communications Act (part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986).
This area of law, like the rest of life – is uncertain. If you want to ensure that everything is accounted for (or erased) – be sure to provide some instructions and make that list of your digital assets.
©Barbara Cashman www.DenverElderLaw.org