In this increasingly “digital” world , have you ever stopped and thought about what might happen upon your death in terms of what becomes of your “digital” information. More and more of us are conducting our lives in cyberspace and therefore much of the information about us, our activities, interests, etc are contained in various websites and digital repositories. When we die – who gets access to these or does it mean that everything dies with us?
A recent article in the NBR got us thinking about this and we thought that it was worth sharing with you. Take Facebook for instance – many folk are now using this social medium for maintaining contact with family and friends, extending their business marketing, sharing pictures, video and the like. As many people these days simply take photos with their digital camera and then just upload them (or some of them) to Facebook, they are increasingly never seeing paper or (heaven forbid) ending up in a photo album (yes – remember them?). When a person dies therefore, access to a lot of photos and memories will simply be lost due to either lack of knowledge or lack of access (or both).
We would like to encourage people to think carefully about this increasingly important part of our everyday lives and to give some careful thought to what they might do about it. Perhaps when making a Will they could consider leaving a sealed envelope with passwords and access details so that family and those left behind can gain access to what might be considered precious records, memories and the like. Just think about the types of digital repositories that we already take for granted (and these are growing by the day) – Facebook, Hotmail, Gmail, YouTube, Twitter, Linked In – to name just a few of the common ones.
The New Zealand Law Society has developed a Digital Legacy Checklist which will assist people identify these assets and they have also ascertained what the access policies are for some of the more popular sites. So, next time you are on Facebook spare a thought for the future and be prepared to follow up with something concrete or talk to your Lawyer about the best way to deal with the issue.