Leaving a digital legacy: new book outlines how to shape your online footprint after you’re gone

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – “I always say, ‘planning is an act of love,'” explains Vicki McLeod. “You do it for the people that are coming after.” McLeod is the co-author of Digital Legacy Plan: A Guide to the Personal and Practical Elements of Your Digital Life Before You Die.

It includes a series of worksheets designed to help settle your digital affairs, including taking an inventory of your online assets.

“This is where you’re going to get the greatest idea of how much of a digital footprint you have,” says McLeod. “Then you can not only list what those digital assets are, but you can also then check for updated passwords and login information, you can capture it all in one place, and you can even add instructions.”

These instructions can include whether or not you want your Facebook account to be turned into a memorial page, for example. “[Then] they have a nice tidy list that’s easy to follow and it’s easy for you to then keep adding to it as you open new accounts.”

Admittedly, many people don’t give a second thought about what may happen to their Facebook or Instagram accounts once they’re gone, but that can come at a cost, namely at the risk of becoming what McLeod calls a digital zombie.

“The danger alone of a neglected account [is that it] can be hacked and be used by someone for nefarious purposes, for example, and no one is paying attention to your account, that can quite easily happen.”

And death can be something of a touchy subject.

“One of the reasons people don’t have this kind of thing in place already is because we have this relationship with death that is uncomfortable,” McLeod says. “Even for us writing the book, we found it was bringing up previous losses that we’d had in our lives, we had to be tender with ourselves.”

That’s why the book includes a self-care contract, which basically gives you permission to only take on what you can when you’re comfortable doing so, especially when grieving a loved one.

Digital Legacy Plan is available from Self-Counsel Press.

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