While it will sound terrible to be talking about tragedy, especially of a young person, I bring this story up to teach an important lesson. Miller, in his BBC article “Death in the digital age: Are you prepared?” brought to life the story of Eric Rash who committed suicide in 2011.
Even though this occurred a few years ago, the law is still unclear and not standard. At least Facebook allows someone to define if they want their account to be memorialized and who should be the new owner of the account. Other social media companies are also following suit.
In a more timely account, Prokop discusses “When death comes, survivors cope with digital afterlife,” in her article on Columbian.com. In this example Leisha Till, 40 years old, suddenly succumbed to death from a brain aneurysm. According to the story, she had many online accounts including social media accounts. In this case her computer was already logged in to her email and Facebook accounts, but there were many other accounts where Larry, her husband was left to sort out.
Could this happen in your family?
We don’t often think about our online accounts as something we need to leave to someone in a will but this is becoming more and more common; a digital will or sometimes called a digital estate. In doing so, should some emergency occur, the estate will have access to your accounts, user ids, passwords, secret codes and anything else needed to log in and take care of your wishes with each account. They will be able to save your digital photos, close any accounts or even pay your bills in a non-life threatening event.
Can you imagine yourself in any of these situations? Probably not. No one really ever sees it coming. Prevent the hassle and problems from being left to your family. Document your online accounts so there is no question if the time comes.
Protect your family and yourself by being prepared in case the worst happens.
Click here to use my brand new workbook, Document Your Digital Footprint, to help you navigate the process.
Digital Assets are a very real and valuable asset. They are not assets that are tangible and able to be held and touched. A digital asset is something that is intangible; something that cannot be touched or felt. For most of us millennials, most of our possessions growing up were physical objects able to be held and interacted with. This included things like music on vinyl, tape or cd, books, photographs that were printed from film, etc. Today, these things translate into digital photos, digital music, digital movies, digital books, online accounts and social media.
Some of these things are not necessarily valuable in the same way as a diamond ring but in valuable in a sentimental way. Others are valuable in a monetary way. Are you a writer? Do you write for a living? My best guess is that your writing is done electronically and not by using an old typewriter. Are you an artist or musician? How about a photographer? Do you photograph special events? I am sure you do not process film. Its all digital now.
And what about your online accounts? I am sure you have heard about all of the account hacking going on. Do you have online accounts that you no longer use anymore? Are they still active? Do they contain any personal information? If they are active and contain information that someone could use, I would recommend closing those accounts out and have them removed. Can you imagine the trouble that could be found if some of your personal information got leaked or hacked (stolen)?
Another valuable digital asset is social media. Social media profiles and posts contain lots of personal information. These accounts are very valuable to a lot of people. For one, you! You have pictures, memories and business information stored on social media. The hackers…they are always trying to hack accounts to gain access to your personal information. Make sure these accounts are tightly secured with a strong password.
Last but not least, since digital assets are part of our virtual world, how to you protect them. The best and first line to protecting your digital files is a backup. Backup your files, including digital photos, books and music purchased online, art or music you have created, whatever you have on your computer. I have a triple threat backup system. My important files like digital photos are manually copied from my computer to a separate external hard drive. The third part of the system is an automatic backup where my files are backed up to the cloud. I use Carbonite which is an application that is constantly checking my system for new or updated files. Once a file is found, it is instantly backed up. Safe and sound in three different places.
I would love to hear from you!
What kind of digital assets do you have? What do you do to secure your files?