Protecting Your Digital Afterlife

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Most families prepare for the unthinkable with a will, but your money and belongings aren’t the only things to consider in the event of your death.

3 On Your Side’s Jim Donovan explains why it can also be important to arrange for the care of your digital life.

It’s still hard for Karen Prangley to look at old photos of her dad.

“We didn’t know at one point if we were going to lose my dad,” she said.

Greg Prangley suffered two devastating strokes in 2009. After a week in a coma, the 62-year-old woke up but his memory was suffering.

“My brother and I tried to communicate with him via paper and pen, anyway to get into his email account where he ran his business from,” said Karen.

Greg couldn’t remember his Yahoo password. His entire business was tied to his account.

Within a month the company collapsed. Greg died in 2014.

“You’re dealing with the idea that your dad might not be there the next day, and also trying to make sure you’re doing the right thing on his behalf,” Karen said.

Dan Ackerman is a senior editor for CNET. He says you can do more than share your passwords.

“I would go to Google, Facebook, and Twitter. They all have a page where you can set up legacy requests,” said Ackerman.

Protecting your digital afterlife is a relatively new concept. Part of that plan also includes adding your digital life to your will.

“As part of estate planning, you should set up a data executor in your will that has permission to access your account. Either give them the password ahead of time, or make them an authorized user of your accounts,” Ackerman said.

This is important because many email providers and social media companies have policies which prohibit them from giving anyone access to another person’s account, even in the event of their death.

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