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When I Go Away: Getting Your Digital Affairs in Order - Mike Ashenfelder

Nowadays when we prepare a will, we have the added responsibility of leaving instructions to our loved ones about what to do with our online things after we die. Bequeathing has grown more complicated.

Much of our online content consists of our writings – email, text, tweets, blogs, wikis and more – and our loved ones would surely cherish some of it just as surely as we cherish special old cards and letters. The same goes for our online photos, videos, artwork and other things we’ve created.

All of this content exists in a situation unique to the digital age: it resides in cyberspace and, as such, some of it will continue to reside there long after we die while some of it will get deleted by their hosts after a period of time. But between hosting servers and online services, the content is held by third parties and is beyond our immediate control.

A few helpful advocacy groups are spreading awareness of this so-called “digital afterlife,” and an industry of commercial services is growing for online memorials, digital estate planning, post-mortem email notifications and more. As messy and mysterious as the process of getting your digital affairs in order might seem, it actually breaks down into a few steps.



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