What we create on social media and store in the cloud are called digital assets in legal parlance, and several web developers have come up with ways for the living to allow others to access these files after they pass.
The utilitarian–sounding Inactive Account Manager offered by Google is a new feature that allows users to give Google permission to close accounts after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. It also gives them the option of designating a digital beneficiary to take ownership of YouTube videos, Picasa photos and files stored on other Google services.
“We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife — in a way that protects your privacy and security — and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone,” Google product manager Andreas Tuerk wrote in an April blog.
A similar service, Legacy Locker, describes itself as a “digital safety deposit box” where people can store passwords and digital copies of important documents.
It’s tough to crack the code on this locker, as no mere password will do. Legacy Locker instead has two requirements: a death certificate for the deceased and confirmation of the passing from two people. Beneficiaries are then contacted and asked to verify their respective identities before any digital assets are released.
Legacy Locker also delivers post-death messages — typed or recorded on video — to loved ones on behalf of the account holder.
Those seeking a web service to manage digital and worldly assets alike may prefer AfterSteps, which can handle social media accounts, living wills, life insurance plans and more under one cloud-based roof.
It also offers practical information and guides to help people navigate the uncomfortable and confusing process of planning for death.
Facebooking from the grave
Facebook truly is a record of one’s life, particularly for heavy users, and considering what should happen with your account is akin to the weighty decision surrounding who should get the diary or the journal.
Yet Facebook does not offer its users a way to bequeath the contents of their accounts. It permits relatives of deceased users to close accounts. Family members can also ask Facebook to memorialize an account, which allows friends and family to share memories on the deceased person’s wall.
Several third-party apps deal specifically with Facebook data after death. One boldly called DeadSocial lets people share a final message or series of messages, either through Facebook or Twitter.
Details shoudn’t discourage
Another viable option for passing along passwords is an old-fashion one — a list on paper stored in a safety deposit box. Perhaps no tech at all is still the best for some.
But the means is not nearly as important as the preparations themselves. Having a plan is clearly better than none. The alternative is digital assets that are stuck in limbo.Tags: Cloud,Lifestyle,Technology