In the past when you died your family would still have your computer which they either knew the password too or more likely the device did not have a password. When going through your machine, they would find family documents, photos and possibly videos.
Today, you probably store your data in online services like Onedrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and many other “Cloud” storage areas. Your family are unlikely to know about all your storage areas and even less likely to have the login details especially if you follow good security practices.
Then there is what to do with social media accounts; in mine, I still have friends on Facebook who died years ago. Facebook allows you to specify a legacy contact which is a trusted person who can memorialise your account. Google allows you to set policies about what happens to your data if it is not accessed for some time and allows granting access to a nominated person.
Will your Cryptocurrency be lost when you die?
Now there are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. If nobody knows about your Bitcoin wallet or how to log in, then your bitcoins are lost forever. There is no central bank to grant access or change the password.
A recent news story is the most extreme example of this problem and involves the CEO of a cryptocurrency exchange who died unexpectedly. He allegedly was the only one with access to the passwords, and his death has resulted in the loss of over £110 million pounds of other peoples money. There are many conspiracy theories about this being a massive fraud, but that is another issue.
Planning for your digital death.
Planning for your digital death is essential. Make a list of all your online accounts and login details and keep it updated. Store it somewhere your family can access it and tell them where it is. A good solution would be to print it out and store it in a fireproof safe.
This document is both valuable and dangerous so when you update it don’t forget to shred the old copy with a quality shredder.