Death is inevitable. But as we spend most of our lives online, it is more important than ever to make sure that our loved ones and those we trust have access to our online accounts, when we leave this world. There are several ways in which your loved ones can request access to your accounts once you have left.
It is necessary to leave your accounts online to those you trust, especially social and e-mail, in order not to suffer your loved ones after your death. Therefore, many online services allow you to assign old contacts or grant access to your accounts after a period of inactivity. Here we will tell you how to make sure that the people you leave behind can manage your digital activities when you can’t.
Create emergency tools in password manager applications
Password Manager apps automatically include the passwords to all your online accounts and provide access to them with a single master key, so it’s a good idea to tell a loved one or family member who you trust the app’s password to use and delete all of your accounts when an emergency occurs or you die.
The 1Password app, for example, has the Emergency Kit creation feature when you register, which includes all the information someone might need to sign in to your account, so print it out or download a copy to a USB drive and place it in a safe place, like your toolbox Personal where your loved ones can reach, in case you die.
In addition to storing passwords for your financial accounts, you can also store information such as bank numbers, credit card numbers, and any other important information you may need to leave, and other apps like Keeper and Dashlane offer similar features.
If you use the Keeper app, open your account on the site, go to Account Manage and then Account Emergency Access, and from there you can add up to 5 email addresses as emergency contacts. The app also allows you to set up a 7 day waiting period, so if you don’t use your account at that time, your contacts will be notified.
Add a Facebook contact as a trustee on your account
It is important to ensure that your loved ones have access to your financial information, but what about social media? Preserving profiles may seem trivial however Facebook allows you to select a contact who acts as the heir or guardian of your account to commemorate your account or keep a shortened copy of your profile active after you die. The memorial account will display a banner on your profile indicating that you are dead, remove your account from public search results, and stop reminding your friends of your birthday. Friends will still be able to post messages to your timeline if you allow them through your privacy settings.
To set up a trustee/heir contact, go to the Settings page, and click Edit under Manage Account. In the box that appears, type the name of the person you want to be the guardian/heir of your account after you die and click Add.
Note: The person you choose must be your Facebook friend, and you can alert him or her that he or she has been chosen.
The heir/guardian contact will be able to accept new friendship requests, change your profile data and cover photo, write a message to commemorate your death and also to commemorate your account, and anyone visiting your account will find this message placed at the front of your timeline. They can also choose to deactivate/lock your account after you die through account management, by scrolling down and selecting “Request account deletion”.
Set up an inactive Google Account Manager
Who doesn’t use Google services? Therefore, Google offers an inactive account manager that automatically delivers control of your account to a specific person after a specified period of inactivity.
To set it up, head to this page and click Start. Then, select how long you want to wait before Google decides that your account is inactive (by default, this is set to ‘after 3 months’). Then add and verify your phone number or an email address, Google will try to contact you several times via this number or email before transferring your account to someone else. When you are finished, click Next.
In Step 3, click Add Person, enter the email address of the person you want to control your account and click Next, then click the checkbox next to each Google service you want them to be able to download your data. You can allow access to everything or choose certain services, such as YouTube, Google Photos, Google Drive, Gmail, etc. Once you’ve finished, click Next. You’ll then be able to add your contact’s phone number, to help confirm your identity. Click Save.
Under this section, click Set Autoreply, which will allow you to set up an automated message that will be sent to anyone who sends you an email after your account has been marked as inactive. Fill in the Subject and Message field with the message you want people who email you.
You can also click Send response only to people in my contacts. When you are finished, click Save, and then click Next. The last step will allow you to delete your Google Account after 3 months of inactive status. Enable this switch if you want, click Review Plan, check your choices, and click Confirm Plan.
Don’t forget about Two-Factor Authentication
If you have two-factor authentication set up on important accounts, your loved ones will need access to your phone, along with your username and passwords, to get the secondary codes.
One option is to add the fingerprint or face of a trusted person to your phone. The options for Android phones vary depending on which phone you have, do a quick Google search with your specific phone name should put you on the right track.
While Apple and its iPhones make things a little easier, those who own an iPhone with a Touch ID can add an extra fingerprint by going to Settings, then Touch ID & Passcode, then adding a fingerprint.
Note that even with the Touch ID or Face ID setting on your iPhone, you will need to enter the passcode of the phone if the device restarts or if it is inactive for more than 48 hours. So it might be a good idea to let this trusted person know your passcode as well.
It’s good to back up
With all of these steps outlined above, a large chunk of your data should be accessible to those you leave behind, to manage your online accounts. Unfortunately, not every service provides an authorized way to grant access. This is why it is good to usually save your work and important data on an external hard drive and back up your data regularly.