If you google "Digital Footprint", the definition is "the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity."
Think of what you do online - by phone, tablet, and computer. That is your digital footprint.
In today's increasingly digital society, we are often overwhelmed with our multifaceted digital footprint and bombarded by the complex issues surrounding digital security, including personal privacy and personal data.
Trying to keep personal information safe is becoming an ongoing concern. Between mobile phones, computers, home devices, passwords, security questions, and two-step verification, we have our hands full!
If you are pre-planning for yourself (or involved with the passing of a loved one), a critical component will be ensuring a designated person knows the information for digital access - to a mobile phone, to computers, to home security systems, etc.
Remember to arrange access to your digital presence with someone - your Executor/Executrix, lawyer or an identified person-in-charge (PIC).
This task is not one to undertake in one sitting. First consider the most important details - the critical information - that will be essential to pass along to your designated confidant.
Devices: from phones to home security systems to smart appliances
Apps & Online Activity: from utility accounts to banking & credit cards; from digital news subscriptions to personal medical records
Representative examples, but certainly not all:
Again, some examples but not all:
With each of these components, there is likely to be a login code (possibly a nickname or email), a password, security questions /answers, and multi-step verification. Perhaps even a stored credit card number for renewal.
Do you have some form of password software that tracks and updates all of your passwords?
Do your devices automatically save passwords?
How often do you change your passwords?
Are all your devices synced?
These questions begin to tell the story of how difficult it will be for someone besides yourself to manageyour digital security if necessary. Make it easier for those you leave behind and inform them as to how they can access the key passwords they will need.
The following is a story that is all too familiar...
My friend's husband passed away suddenly. They were in their late sixties and had made some preparations for these eventualities. However, my friend had left most of the associated tasks in her husband's hands.
They each had their own computers, but he handled most of the financial and joint accounts. She knew that her husband had all of their passwords listed somewhere in his computer - BUT she didn't know his computer password, nor did she have a copy of the file.
Finally, their accountant helped her find a computer consultant who was able to open her husband's computer and find the passwords and digital history that would ease the burden of changing all joint accounts and closing his accounts.
But it was a substantial cost to have someone do everything - starting with hacking into her husband's computer files.
(Although another friend told me she gained access (as the Executrix) to a friend's computer by contacting Microsoft directly and supplying them with the death certificate. Microsoft provided the old password and allowed her to change the login and password for free.)
Make sure that you and your loved ones share information on how to access individual digital devices and crucial accounts. Leave the information with a lawyer, in a safe or safe deposit box, with a close relative or a friend, or with prepared documents that are readily accessible.
As cumbersome as it is, put the codes for your digital footprint in one printable file, address book, or journal in a secure location with your other personal papers (Will, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney, etc.).
Ensure that your digital footprint will be readily accessible for those you leave behind.
Step-by-step guide to what to do first. Calls, Paperwork, Care Arrangements, etc.
Detailed guide to prepare or fulfill final wishes
Where do you start? Physical remains, funeral options, death certificates, memorial services and more...
Next hurdle - how to handle financial records and accounts
Key reminders on securing residences - owned or rented, apartments or houses - after a loved one's death
Magazine Subscriptions, memberships and more...
Funny, helpful and special stories that others have shard to help you through the process
For each section, dowload and personalize a pdf checklist