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What about your digital footprint?

Quick question - If your life was to end right now, who would know how to access your digital devices? In the digital age we live in, many of us have a variety of devices that require a pin code, password, finger print or face recognition in order to access them. Great by way of security but what if, in the event of an injury or even your death, someone is not able to access your device! Just consider for a moment the amount of content you have on your devices, from photographs to important documents, emails, banking information, utility bill info and a whole lot more. Ask yourself ‘Who would I trust to see this information and what is to happen to it in the event of my death?’ It is well worth considering this scenario as it is not an unusual occurrence for someone to die, leaving nobody able to access their devices or digital storage files. It may be that you are left needing to access information from a locked laptop on behalf of someone else when they die and the only way you can get into it is by receiving a court order for the developer to open it! This could be a very costly and lengthy process and whilst it is great for security, it can be of real detriment for anyone who has to manage your affairs after you have died. The great news is that many companies who require user verification to access devices or certain accounts, now have a facility for you to add a ‘Legacy Contact’ which can be set up very easily. This means that you nominate a trusted person (or persons) to be your Legacy Contact. This is usually done via a link on your online settings or account page. A quick search on the internet will lead you to some simple instructions on how to do this across all of your particular devices and various accounts. Once complete, your nominated ‘trusted person’ will then be sent a notification of your intentions, leaving you able to rest assured that in the event of your death they can access your devices and necessary social media or virtual storage accounts. BUT STOP - Before we all rush off and get this set up, we also need to pause and consider what our Legacy Contact or nominated person is to do with all of our personal information, documents, photos, email and social media accounts etc. that are stored on all of our devices. Taking responsibility to choose a Legacy Contact who is willing and able is vital in your preparations.

When considering who this person will be, allow yourself (and them) the grace of considering just what you are asking them to do. Being tasked with sorting out the content on another person’s computer, phone or any other device is a huge job in itself. So, invite a conversation about what could be involved and also make sure that in the event of your death, they actually have the legal right to do so. It's no good having a Legacy Contact who does not have the legal right to gain entry to your house after your death, let alone remove any of your devices! For example; if you nominate a Legacy Contact on your particular device, storage account or other social media account but make no reference to this in your will, or fail to inform your executors or those responsible for managing your affairs after your death, that person may not have the authority to gain the access to your devices that you desire them to have. It may be that your legacy contact is actually the executor of your will or they could be named as a trusted/nominated person, but whatever you set up, make sure you let people know so that all concerned know the role they are to play when it comes to closing down and bringing completion to your digital footprint. Many people have found that some social media accounts are quite tricky to close down. Again, lots of platforms now have processes in place for this purpose so take a look in your settings or privacy tabs for clues on how to do this or do a quick search on the internet for more info. NEXT STEP – Take some time to assess the extent of your digital footprint across all of your devices. You may find it quite surprising to see just how far it reaches! Next - put in place a plan to support those people who are going to be responsible for dealing with and removing your digital footprint, once your physical feet have left this plane.


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