Most of us make arrangements for what happens with our property when we die. Even if you never got around to drawing up a will, South African Law makes provision for Intestate Succession.

However, in 2015 most of us have got a rather significant digital estate. So what happens to our digital selves when we die?

digital demise

Currently, many states in the US are working on passing a Uniform Digital Estate Law (there are no similar development at present in South Africa). We’ve hooked you up with some tips on how to deal with your digital estate after you die:

1. Draw up a will

A good starting point is to make provisions in your will and appoint a power of attorney specifically dealing with your digital estate.

2. Be specific

You will need to inventory all your digital assets – everything from ebooks, to digital currency, social media, email, etc. This inventory should be accompanied by a secure, encrypted user and password list for all of your devices, accounts, emails, etc. Use a trusted software app to manage your passwords.

social media and death 3

3. Know the terms and conditions regarding deceased users for site

While Twitter will start deleting accounts after six months of inactivity, most other social networks won’t touch your profile unless specifically asked by a family member, executor, agent or law enforcement agent.

Google has a specific setting for a deceased or disabled user called “inactive status.” A user can apply this setting to allow for a successor user. It will even email the successor if the account is inactive for six months.

Facebook won’t delete profiles on its own, though, which raises another interesting question: When will the profiles of dead Facebook users outnumber those of the living? According to research by XKCD, that will happen around 2065 if Facebook stops growing, or around 2130 if its membership keeps expanding. Your executor or power of attorney will have to request that Facebook “memorialise” your  profile or to delete it. The request has to be accompanied with a death certificate.

social media and death

Images by  Dan Shaffer at WebpageFX.