Digital Afterlife

In an online era, our personal information is primarily stored digitally. But what happens to those digital assets, like your social media accounts or important electronic documents, after you die?

Digital Estate Plan

Similar to a healthcare agent, a digital estate plan allows you to choose a digital executor – the person(s) who can access your digital property and online information after you are gone.

Here are four steps to get your planning started:

  • List all of your digital property and the passwords to access each one.

    This could include:

    • Digital devices such as computers, hard drives, smartphones, and tablets

    • Any important information stored digitally or in the cloud

    • Social media profiles and other online accounts, like email, e-commerce websites, or domain names

  • Determine what should happen to the assets you listed
  • Talk to and select a digital executor(s) to act on your behalf
  • Place your digital estate plan in an accessible (but safe) location. This may be with your advance directive or in another secure place.

Helpful Resources

Everplans Logo Square

Everplans is a platform to help you create a plan that contains everything your loved ones will need if something happens to you. Check out their cheat sheet on how to create a digital estate plan.

Digital ethics and policy

Explore this article about death and the internet. The Center for Digital Ethics and Policy was founded through the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago in an effort to foster more dialogue, research, and guidelines regarding ethical behavior in online and digital environments.

What happens to your Facebook (and other social media accounts)

Memorialized Account

If Facebook is notified you have passed away and have chosen not to delete your account, it will display the word “remembering” next to your profile name.

While memorialized profiles don’t appear in “people you may know” or “birthday reminders”, it provides a space for friends to share memories and stories.

You can visit Facebook’s FAQ to how to memorialize an account and add a legacy contact.

The Digital Beyond provides a breakdown of what happens to each social media platform after you die.

Legacy Contacts

To preserve your Facebook profile with more control, you can select a “legacy contact” to oversee your memorialized account. It’s important to note that this individual must also be on Facebook.

Your legacy contact can accept friend requests, change the profile and cover photos, pin a tribute post, and request removal of the account. Not to fear, this person can’t see everything in your account. Legacy contact cannot read your message, change or remove posts you shared in the pasts.