Digital Death – What is it?

Digital DeathDigital death. What is it and what should you do about it? The Internet may be forever, but can you control your legacy. If you died tonight, would your family, your partners, your executors, know what to do with your digital footprint? Would they even know your unique passwords especially the more secure sites where passwords must be changed frequently and may have multiple levels of authentication?

The topic of digital death encompasses issues of access to digital data, in all its forms, as well as the problems of collecting, valuing or transferring these digital assets.

“Many of us will accumulate vast libraries of digital books and music over the course of our lifetimes. But when we die, our collections of words and music may expire with us. Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.” NW MarketWatch 8/23/2012

So could someone find, much less manage, all of these if you died? This area of law is expanding rapidly so we advise finding an attorney that is experienced in this area and have your estate planning docs updated.

Also, make sure your executor/personal representative, or someone you trust, is able to access your password info in the event of your incapacity or death. You might also check out Holly Isdale’s web site,, she is the founder of a consulting firm that specializes in protecting digital assets. We heard her speak recently at the Estate Planning Council of Portland and were amazed at some of the technical details of this field.

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