Planning for When You're Gone
Security Policies introduces the concepts of both personal and business policies.
What is Data Inheritance?
Not only do we live so much of our lives online through social media, but many documents are now electronic only, including our monthly household bills, official records and income taxes.
Internet users have an average of 90 online accounts on various platforms and websites.
If you die or become incapacitated, your family or executor needs to be able to deal with these accounts.
Planning for what happens to these accounts is called data inheritance.
The following articles explain data inheritance and how to prepare your accounts so that they are handled as you'd wish in the event that you're no longer capable of managing them.
- Planning for your digital death.
- What happens to your data when you die?
- What happens to your online accounts when you die?
- How to prepare your digital life for your death.
- One day, you're going to die. Here's how to prepare for it.
There are several key components you should consider, including:
- Digital liabilities
- Electronic records
- Social media accounts
- Business accounts
- Wills and other legal documents (sidebar)
Every situation is different and rules may vary by country. You'll need to modify suggestions to meet your requirements.
Your devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) have their own accounts, licences, subscriptions, data and passwords.
What can be done with these depends upon the terms of their licence agreements and the accounts that manage them.
Unless you provide the associated passwords, your family may be unable to access the electronic files on your computer that may be necessary to run the household or deal with vehicles or other property.
Passwords also protect access to online accounts, including utilities and subscriptions that could become digital liabilities.
People often own other personal devices like tablets, smartphones, ebook readers and fitness-tracking watches.
Even if they don't contain important data such as contact lists and photos, the devices need to be cleared of personal information and hopefully can be re-purposed by other family members.
The Smart Home
It isn't uncommon for people to make life more convenient by replacing traditional thermostats, door locks, vacuums or even lawn mowers with versions that are remote controlled or accessed.
Devices like Google Nest or Amazon Echo can be used to track and control these items.
People now have dozens or even hundreds of electronic accounts for various purposes.
In dealing with your affairs, information about your subscriptions, memberships, even cybercurrencies are necessary because these will need to be cancelled or transferred.
Accounts paid via a credit card can be considered “subscriptions” and charge your credit card even if they old number has expired.
According to Mozilla, the average person has 130 online accounts.
The number of passwords seems to get larger each year and additional security requirements have complicated dealing with someone else's online accounts.
Because of the increased reliance on multifactor authentication (MFA) and authenticator apps to protect passwords, you may need access to the smartphone to be able to deal with online accounts.
How do you record these in a safe manner makes them available to someone you trust so they can act on your behalf, if necessary?
Bitwarden Emergency Access
Bitwarden Premium permits you to set up emergency access for someone you trust in case something happens to you.
Bitwarden lets users designate and manage trusted contacts who can request access to their vault, if necessary. A three-step process requires subscribers to invite a user, who must accept the invitation, and be confirmed by the original requester.
There is a caveat, though: Only premium users—including those of paid organizations (Families, Teams, Enterprise)—can designate emergency contacts (who, in turn, must have a Bitwarden account). There's no limit to the number of trusted emergency contacts one user can have, though.
Learn more about Bitwarden's Emergency Access.
Most of our records are now provided in an electronic format rather than on paper, often requiring you to log into your account to obtain statements or other information.
- Monthly bills are either online or provided in PDF format.
- Income taxes are online.
- Payroll and pensions are auto-deposited.
- Banking is done online.
- Payments are via credit card, ApplePay, PayPal or e-Transfer.
- Photos are stored on your phone, your computer or on social media.
- Personal and business correspondence is via email or instant messaging.
How will you preserve this information so that it is accessible to your family or executor if you are no longer able to manage this yourself?
One method is to provide access to where it is stored, especially if it is on your computer.
- Be sure that you have provided access to those that will need it when the time comes because you may not be there to help.
- You also need to ensure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands if your home or office is burgled.
You could also keep it on a removable hard drive or thumb drive.
- Be sure to keep it safe and clearly labelled.
- Ensure others know where it is and why it is important.
- Be sure the information is current and not accidentally overwritten.
- Because of its small size it is easily lost or stolen.
Storage online has many benefits, including universal accessibility.
- You need to ensure the user name and password is available.
- The account could be hacked, so frequent password updates may be necessary.
- MFA may complicate access.
While there are many different online storage accounts, SecureSafe account provides a more secure environment.
SecureSafe is an award-winning online storage solution. The cloud safe protects documents and passwords, offering a level of security comparable to a Swiss bank.
SecureSafe has more information about data inheritance:
Social Media Accounts
So many people use social media accounts like Facebook to keep in touch and to share photos and other memories.
Preserving profiles may seem trivial, but our lives are increasingly lived online, so these accounts are the modern version of physical photo albums, letters, and other keepsakes.
You can sometimes make plans for your social media accounts if something happens to you.
Some social media accounts, like Facebook, can become legacy accounts, run by one of your heirs. The rules differ for each social media account.
The topic of data inheritance is young and many online service providers have yet to present their policies on it.
Some of the heavyweights have, however, already put various options in place for their users to pass on important data or rights to online accounts.
If you have a business, it is an entity separate from your personal life but also needs to be managed in the case of your death or other circumstances where you are incapacitated.
Will It Continue?
The first decision is to determine if the business is capable of running without you if you become incapacitated or die.
Consider whether the business has existing managers, key employees or co-owners that are capable of managing the day-to-day business details with minimal oversight. This will determine if continuing the business is a viable option.
There may be an option to sell the business, depending upon its nature and whether there is value without you.
If these conditions cannot be met, the business will have to be wound down and the liabilities paid off (including any outstanding taxes).
Privacy and Confidentiality
Depending upon the size and nature of the business, there will be other issues, including privacy and confidentiality issues, particularly if your business deals with private client data.
In such a case you'll need to ensure that security policies (including non-disclosure agreements) are in place for employees with access to that information as well as anyone brought in to assess the business.
You need to provide direction and appoint someone that is familiar with your business or has the ability to deal with the financial and legal issues. These may include your accountant, lawyer or key employees or store managers.
Be sure to set up a power of attorney for the person(s) capable of oversight in the continuance or dissolution of your business along with written instructions detailing the business operations and requirements which is stored in a safe and secure location accessible by that person and your executor.