Sunday, 21 September 2014

How I tackled my digital legacy when writing my Last Will

Writing a Will is very important especially when you have dependants you want to provide for if the worst was happens. If there is one thing I have learnt from having my father die when I was young: is that you must prepare early even if it is hard to think about it. So as a new father I felt the time was right.

Disclaimers all round: I am not a lawyer, all I want to achieve with this post is to live out loud by sharing how I have tried to incorporate my "digital estate" in to my planning. I do not expect anyone to follow the process in this post but it may inspire you to create a better process... and if you do please share it...  

What do I mean by Digital Legacy? Well, my front garden is the first thing people see when they walk up to my house. At the moment I maintain the garden and I am in control of the external image of my home. If I was to become ill or die, unless someone took over this maintenance: the garden would become untidy. The same will happen in my digital life. 

So I needed to make provisions for someone to protect, preserve and/or remove my digital presence on the internet. To list a few assets: my blog, my websites, my social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc), my posts and comments on other sites and even how I appear in Google search

Letter of wishes (LoW)
This is the document I chose to express my digital wishes. My reasoning for this was so I could complete this document independently (will make sense later) and because lawyers may not understand some of the technology concepts involved. I need to write this LoW in private because I Will be storing a one-time password to my Lastpass account. Lastpass is a secure password vault in the cloud. My executors can then use this password to gain access to every password they may need to manage my digital legacy. To make it easier the LoW also lists the main services I wish to bring attention to (like: dropboxgoogle driveevernotegmail and etc). However this approach is not without risk:
  1. This makes the LoW a single point of failure in my password security. So I needed to ensure the security of the document.
  2. The password must be changed immediately, otherwise the executors will be unable to re-access the password vault as its a One Time Password.

In addition to empowering my executors in death, I have also given my executors a Lasting Power of Attorney. This document allows my appointed attorneys to act on behalf. Handy if I need my digital legacy managed before I might die.

Signposting the location of my Will
As I am relatively young with no plans of dieing with this version of the Will enforce and because my Letter of Wishes has the keys to my kingdom: I decided to store and secure my own Will. To mitigate the risk of my executors being unable to find my Will, I have: 
  • Set up Google inactivity manager to notify my executors the location of my Will. If you do not know the service, it enables you to make arrangements for your google account if there has been a period of inactivity. These include: notify people; transfer account to somebody else; or delete the account. 
  • Set a reminder in google calendar to review Google inactivity manager every year to ensure the location is still correct. Who doesn't move things around during the year without thinking... 

Finally, who did I leave my digital assets to? Unfortunately most of my digital belongings has DRM... (as far as I am aware) this licensed content could not be included in my Will, as I don't actually own the content but own a license to enjoy the content. This license is revoked on death. For some this can be a reason to buy only DRM-Free or buy it physically. Personally I prefer not to decorate my house with books, DVDs and CD cases. 

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