As much as we don’t like to think about it, there will come a day when your loved ones may have to access important information about you after your passing. As we live more and more of our lives online numerous aspects of our lives are digitized and it’s important that those left behind can access those if the need arises.
Many online services such as Facebook, allow you set up a “legacy” contact to manage your account after you’re gone, or to designate a period of inactivity before de-activating or deleting your account. This enables preservation of the modern version of physical photo albums, letters and other keepsakes. You can also grant access to a loved one and leave a scaled down memorial version of your account if desired. A memorialized account will show a banner on your profile indicating that you’re deceased, remove your account from public search results, and turn off birthday reminders. Facebook-owned Instagram does not offer a designated legacy contact, so your family would have to request access or a memorial version after the fact. Twitter and LinkedIn offer similar services.
As for other important information, as I talked about in a previous article on password managers, creating an Emergency Kit that is kept in a safe place, either in printed form or on a saved copy on a USB drive, gives those left behind the information needed to access all of your important personal data such as banking info, wills, and more. This of course is providing you have been diligent and recorded all that information in a password manager such as 1Password, Last Pass, or Dashlane and others.
Leaving this information with your spouse and family and discussing how to access it while you are all together is a difficult but necessary conversation both for ease of mind and to help reduce the stress on your family who have more than enough to deal with when the eventual inevitable happens.
If you have been conscientious and have added two-factor authentication to your important accounts, having a trusted member of the family like a spouse or child added to that level of security is essential also. Two-factor authentication sends a message to a mobile phone for example with a unique code that allows you to sign into important accounts. Giving your spouse or other trusted person access to your phone can be achieved by adding their fingerprint or face as a secondary user to your phone and by giving them your numerical access code. In this way you ensure they can use your phone to validate accounts if needed. This is important in that most devices require the pass code to open after being shut off or being inactive for more than 48 hours. (This access code could also be added to your password manager documents as mentioned above).
Adding secondary users for face and fingerprint authentication are specific to Apple devices, but such settings are also achievable on Android phones. You should familiarize yourself with those settings as a matter of security any time.
With all these steps taken care of, a good portion of your important info should be accessible to those left behind, but don’t forget about your back-ups. (You did pay attention and are backing things up I as described in a previous article, right?) Not every service includes a tidy way of accessing information, so in your Emergency Kit or password manager make sure to include log-in information for your online cloud backups. As well it is a good habit to save your work on a physical back up drive periodically that your loved ones can easily access. Both Windows and Mac users can schedule regular automatic backups with built in software.
As you can see preparing for “that day”, while you are still of sound mind and body, is an important task to alleviate the predictable anxiety of loved ones in advance and having those challenging but healthy conversations and planning are vital.
I’m Captain iPad