What will happen to your Digital Assets, Online Articles, Posts and Websites when you Die?


What are digital assets?

Digital assets are anything of value that is on your computer, it can be your articles, your website, your social media, your photographs or what have you.

What will happen to your digital assets like online articles, posts and websites when you die? Have you made provisions for your digital content in your will or estate? Have you even thought of this? If you are making money from these venues they will most likely keep earning money for many years into the future. So, what kind of provisions should you make upon the event of your death for your digital assets?

What a weird thing to have to consider but consider it we must:

Include your digital assets in your will. Every state has laws that pertain to last wills and testaments but some states have not kept up with technology and have no laws regarding digital assets which makes it even more crucial to specifically account for these assets in your will. Moreover, not every state has laws in place that allow your executor or digital asset representative to access your online information, therefore it must be spelled out clearly in your will.

Since many, various online endeavors pay out in different ways it is best to write up a dossier of all accounts and which bank accounts or Paypal accounts they are attached to and what the sign-in names and pass words are for each of them. Just to be clear, write this out on paper, not on your computer, because, who knows if anyone would ever think to try to look on your computer after your death for these things. And, even if they tried no one would know your sign in names or passwords. Needless to say, it is very important to have this written down on paper separate from your computer. Make sure your next of kin have all your information so they can keep your sites open and optimally continue earning money.

The next thing that would have to be done is to change all bank accounts and Paypal accounts into your heirs accounts. Obviously, after your death these could not be kept up in your name.

Again, there is NO WAY that someone will be able to figure this all out should you die suddenly. And it would be such a waste to just let all your articles and websites go into cyber space never to be seen from again or worse yet stolen and used by some plagiarizer.

But, what should you do if you have no next of kin? You can always have a friend take over your websites and accounts for you or you might want to consider selling your online presence to the highest bidder! That's right sell yourself (in a good way ;) or arrange for someone to do it after your death!

Sell Yourself?

I don't see why you couldn't sell your online presence after or maybe preceding your death. Let's say you are making $500 a month from your articles, posts and websites. Let's say that online work will continue to make money for years after you die, why not sell it to the highest bidder on eBay or something like that, before you die or like I mentioned before make arrangements with someone to sell it for you after you die? Why let all that money just go to waste? People collect royalties after they are dead and they go to their heirs why couldn't your digital assets work the same way? A lot of work goes into creating and maintaining an online body of work should it all be annihilated upon your death?

Isn't There Someone Who Will Make it All Go Away?

Yes there is! You can hire a company that will, for a price, store your passwords, access codes and files, designate beneficiaries and write “legacy letters” after your demise. However, these companies will not keep your sites going, for that you will have to make arrangements yourself.

What about Hub-pages?

I also wrote to the Hub-Pages team and asked them what becomes of accounts that are idle for various periods of time. They said “after a period of inactivity, which can vary, they send an email and if there is no response then these old accounts can be purged”. They also said that “Hubs can be purged due to lack of traffic”. I also asked them if they knew of anyone personally whose articles were kept up after their demise, they said that they did not. They also referred me to the FAQ section of Hub-pages that answers the question of what happens to your account after you die. In short, as long as you give your account email, username, password and answers to your account security questions to someone in order to convey your Hub-Pages account they seem to have no objection. In other words, it belongs to you and you are free to do what you will with your own account.

What about Twitter and Facebook?

Social media sites are another matter. Twitter for example, gives no alternative except to deactivate your account upon your death. Facebook gives you three options: memorializing the account, deleting the account, or downloading the contents of the account, and then deleting the account. Additionally, there is a Facebook app you can download. It is called “If I die,”, you can set it before your death to help put your social accounts in order and send out a last message if you wish.

As I said above there are companies that will, for a price, manage your digital assets after you die. You may not want the same person to have access to ALL of your files. You may not want your parents or your spouse to see every single email you've ever written (pause, think about this for awhile). You may not want any person ever seeing some of your files! For those instances a digital asset estate planning company may be the way to go. I have included a YouTube video below from such a company.

Whatever you decide to do it behooves you to make arrangements for your digital assets, including your Hub-pages account or any other website that you own, in your will before you die. Unfortunately, most of us have never even thought about this eventuality. But, think about it we must unless, of course, you don't care that all your hard work will simply disappear, your digital memory will be erased and all the money earned will either be lost or dissipate into that vast chasm called cyber space!

Have you ever thought about this?

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Have you made arrangements for your Digital Assets?

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Comments 22 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

What an interesting question, and one I've never thought about, but at my age I probably better think about it soon. LOL Thanks for the information, Brie, and have a great weekend.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Yeah..I'm preaching to the choir here myself! Thanks for stopping by.

Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Wow that is great advice. I NEVER have given it any thought. Coincidental only last week did we finally started to fill in a will, after I had a ghastly nightmare. What bothered me the most was for us not having left a will. Not that I think both me and my partner will come to die soon (together), but my reasons were, if I do have a will that dream will never happen!

Now I know what to add into our will. Having a publishing company and an online book shop, This was very good advice indeed. Many thanks.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks Nadine, I was pretty surprised myself. So much of the time when I am writing an article I am simply the first one to learn everything in it. I was also surprised that there was virtually nothing out there about this. It's a big issue, especially if you are a writer or have a lot of stuff on the internet or are making a decent residual income.

Pico Triano profile image

Pico Triano 2 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

Excellent thought provoking article. I was planning to build some excel spreadsheet charts to help me manage my online writing work. This article will make me modify my plan for that slightly so that the information can be passed to the appropriate family members after my demise. Thankfully I read this before I really got into doing that work. This way it can be made part of the overall plan and intent.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks Pico, I need to get on this myself.

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

Wow! I'm glad you brought this up. My husband and I set up a trust three years ago because we don't want our estate whiled away by lawyers during probate. I've heard some real horror stories here in my state about greedy lawyers tying up simple wills and leaving the families left behind almost nothing. This happened to my former mother-in-law. Anyway, we need to make arrangements in our trust for our websites. I think they are already covered under a miscellaneous possession clause, but then, as you say, we need to leave behind usernames and passwords. Good hub. Made me think. Voted up++

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks MizBejabbers, I'm glad to be of some help.

no body profile image

no body 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

You do have a way to think of things that others never do. Recently, when one of our fellow hubbers and my friend died, I thought about others that I have known and wondered where their work goes. I wasn't, of course, thinking of money (until now). I just was wondering what happens. What would I do if it were me and my writing spouse died. I would want to preserve any piece of them especially if it continued to be actively visited. I don't have huge numbers of visitors every day to my hubs but I care about that traffic and if there was a way to preserve that information to continue I would like it to go on, even if it could be "looked after" by a fellow friend and hubber to keep it going. Money is one thing but the work and presentation of information is very important to me. It is my ministry in a very real way. Voted up and very good Brie. Thank you.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks "no body". I rack my brain to try and think of articles that are unique. I must say, this one should be good as it is the first item that comes up when googled...so apparently you are not the only one who hasn't thought about this. I started to think about it as my earnings rose. I thought..I'm 53, what if I keep writing until I'm 73 or older..and this keeps making money. I want to be able to give it to my son so that he can keep it up.

We live in interesting times because never before in history have we had technology like this to even consider.

Thanks for the vote up..please share too..I need to make some money for my retirement ;)

dragonflycolor 2 years ago

Didn't even cross my mind until now. Thanks!

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks for stoppin by, "dragonflycolor".

no body profile image

no body 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

I will Brie. God bless you and your life.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks "no body", I appreciate that.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

You have made me think about this process a bit more seriously. I think it's a good idea to have a plan in place. Thanks for bringing this to my awareness.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

You're welcome, I need to start up on my plan as well.

RachaelOhalloran profile image

RachaelOhalloran 2 years ago from United States

First I apologize that my comment is so long. I am wordy, what can I say.

You might know from following me that I took over awordlover's HP account in 2013. Her story is detailed in the hub on her account called Passing The Torch. Her husband didn't want to work on any of her accounts because he is not a writer, he is not medically oriented like awordlover was and he was not well versed in how the various websites operated. Her internet work was her domain. His interests were elsewhere.

When her wishes were made known, he wanted someone who cared about the work to take it over and since there were no family members left, he asked awordlover's friends. Originally he asked 3 of us to take care of just her HP account, which was the most active of all her accounts, and because we all were employed outside the home, no one had a set amount of time to dedicate to HP. We worked out a schedule between us to mostly keep up with the comment approvals and the many DMCA filings. None of us were ever on HP and we had to learn the process of posting comments, how to do approvals and track down copyright infringement.

As the plagarism got worse and worse, the other two ladies decided they didn't want to keep chasing down infringement and dropped out, leaving me. Her husband gave me a tryout period to see if I could manage the rest of her accounts outside of HP and he paid me a stipend each month from her HP earnings. After doing everything solo for about 3 months - her blogs, social network accts that promoted her work and 2 independent websites - he gave me the accounts to keep. I have to say that with my own work and keeping after the illegal copying of her work, I am very busy. He gave me about 8 flash drives with her articles - past, present and future - and he gave me the option to publish or not.

I have published 4 hubs since her death and all have been copied to multiple websites. I have been fairly successful in over 200 copyright infringement filings and although I was well versed in copyrights, I have become even more so since then.

However, five of her original hubs were stolen and published into an ebook and DMCA filings have not yielded positive results because the ebook authors are from China, a country that does not honor copyrights.

So I have given up publishing her work because the account is in constant state of flux with DMCA filings. Right now, her HP account is simply maintained with no new article contributions.

Anyway, if she had not expressed that she wanted her HP account and websites to stay "live" he would have dissolved the sites - closed them. But he saw that the work on HP is too valuable to close the account. I agree and keep it 'live.' The account is valuable because of high profits every month, but more importantly her articles are valuable to readers. Her account averages about 1,000 views per day so it is a shame to close the account.

Because I have become so busy, one of my daughters is helping me when she can with the websites and blogs, and now she knows the value of planning ahead. I have already made my wishes known in my will, as well as verbally, and in a notarized letter which stays in my safe with the ominous writing on the envelope "To Be Opened In The Event Of My Death." Dramatic maybe, but important so they don't lose it!

Your article is well written and if awordlover's husband had not had awordlover's detailed map of what to do (which she wrote out about 1 year prior), then your article would have been the perfect 'go to' place. It has covered everything he did and what I am doing with her accounts and with my own. Well done, Brie!

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Wow Rachel what a story, I had no idea about your friend. Your friend was just the type of person I had in mind. Thanks for sharing it and thanks for the compliments. Please feel free to share the article with anyone else that could use it.

Sparrowlet profile image

Sparrowlet 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I have thought about this, but haven't done anything as of yet. I guess I should, I have lots of websites and domains, etc that I would like to continue after I die! Great hub with lots of info, thanks.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks, yeah..I started writing down some things but I really have to finish it myself. It's a pain in the ** but it would be such a tragedy to let all that money go down the drain.

Shades-of-truth profile image

Shades-of-truth 2 years ago from USA

I have thought about this, many times. Excellent advice, Brie!

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks..the Huffington Post came out with an article after mine..I swear they used all my ideas..oh well.

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