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What happens to all this digital stuff I’ve amassed when I die?
Your house is on fire and you can only save one thing, what are you grabbing? We’ve all heard some twisted version of this question. Essentially asking, what’s important to you.
I recently went through a downsizing of my possessions due to a move. This made me really consider what was important to take with me. Outside of a few pieces of furniture that were family heirlooms, I found most of my life was digital.
More and more of what I value in my life (outside of family and friends) is digital. Pictures of my kids growing up, emails and texts with people who are no longer with us, personal notes, websites I’ve put years into building, and domain names.
That last one, the domain name, really got me thinking.
Pictures, emails, notes, and the like - I have extensive backups for. I can put them all on a hard drive to pass on. It’s a little strange thinking of my loved ones getting a thumb drive of my life rather than shoeboxes full of pictures and papers, but it makes sense in our current world.
The domain name is a little different. I’m going to specifically talk about my last name. Long ago, I registered my last name as a domain. I’ve used this domain for half my life. My email is set up on this domain, my kids emails are set up on this domain. It’s been used for a variety of different functions for my family. It’s a digital hub of sorts.
When I die, I want my kids to keep the domain name. It’s their name. It’s a digital heirloom that could be in the family for generations.
And what about all these social media and sudo-social media sites we’re a part of. We spend a significant amount of time investment in these websites. Cultivating connections, sharing information, and showcasing our lives. Do they just stop after we’re gone? Should our loved ones be able to download everything? Should it just be deleted (and who’s responsible to do that)? Should it turn into a memorial of sorts?
How many profiles on Facebook are of people not longer with us?
This post is more of musings and observations than solid answers. I don’t have a solution for digital estate planning. But it’s something that needs to (and probably is) be worked on.
Imagine inheriting a house from a relative. Now, to access each room in the house, you need to figure out a different username and password combination for each door. This is essentially what we are doing with our online accounts. All my life is on these digital platforms and there is no skeleton key to access everything - not yet…
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