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Logging out: Digital life after death

Issued: Friday, 31 October 2014

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When it comes to shutting down your digital life after you pass away, whether it's Facebook, Instagram or an email account, it's important to plan ahead.

"Nine out of 10 Australians have a social media account of some description, yet the vast majority have not even had a conversation – let alone written anything down – about what should happen to these accounts when they die," Attorney General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard said.

"Do you want others to have access to your emails? Do you want to share your photo collection with family or friends? What about your Facebook account – would you want it taken down or left as a memorial?

"Knowing what to do with each of these digital assets can be tricky but like any asset you need to think about how they will be dealt with when you pass away.

"To assist, NSW Trustee & Guardian will be holding a free Digital Afterlife webinar on Tuesday 11 November with an accredited specialist in Wills and Estates Law."

Key figures:

  • Nine out of 10 Australians have a social media account.
  • 83% have not discussed with their loved ones what they want to happen to their accounts when they die.
  • Only 3% of Australians who have a Will have decided what to do with their social media accounts after their death.

Imelda Dodds, CEO, NSW Trustee & Guardian said a professional Will maker can guide you on leaving instructions for your executor to deal with your online life.

"Most social media platforms have policies for handling 'deceased accounts' – it is worth researching so you know what options you have," Ms Dodds said.

"For example, with Facebook you can have your account memorialized or deleted while some accounts allow you to set up a delegated user prior to your death.

"Email providers vary in their approach – for example, some email providers are prepared to share the contents of your account with your executor, next of kin or beneficiaries, whereas other providers will simply close your account."

To register for the free Digital Afterlife webinar on Tuesday 11 November, go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5207573303500618754