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!
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 HubPages?
I also wrote to the HubPages 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 Hubpages 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 HubPages 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 Hubpages 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!
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