What Happens To Your Online Life When You Die?

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With 1.9 billion people signed up to Facebook and even more having lists of online accounts, one of the questions never addressed is what happens to your online profile when you die.

Online is big business, with around two-thirds of us banking online, shopping or accessing social media.

Even more – up to 80% – log in online every day, mainly for email and millions of us have virtual belongings, such as photos, music, games and books.

So what happens to those accounts, passwords and profiles on death is becoming important.

Although online users are numbered in billions, only 3% of us have planned for our digital legacy when we pass on, according to research shared by insurance firm SunLife.

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Digital assets

“When we write a will, it almost certainly includes instructions of what will happen to our physical assets such as property, savings and valuables, but is unlikely to say what we want to happen to our digital assets,” said Graham Jones, commercial director at SunLife.

“Many of us may not even know how many online accounts and assets we have, let alone think to pass on details on how to access them and what to do with them, leaving family members with the stress of trying to piece it all together when we die.”

The Law Society in the UK urges people to consider their virtual life by leaving clear instructions of what to do with the account, usernames and passwords in a letter with their will.

Password pitfall

Facebook, the largest social media network, asks for a relative of the dead person or the executor of their will to provide a copy of a death certificate. Their account can then be deleted or turned into a memorial page.

Sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn all have separate ways to deal with a dead person’s account, so it’s important to list each account and prepare the way for someone to take over.

Jones also offered a tip – do not include passwords in a will as they become public documents when probate is granted.

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