Not an excited technology blog post, I know, but a necessary one. I’m sorry. It’s tragic and horrible enough to lose a loved one. On top of everything else to have to deal with their “digital life” is likely the last thing you want to do.
A couple of years ago a friend lost her husband. Lots of places like banks, etc. with a copy of the death certificate will help you out. Access to his computer was not going to happen. He was very tech savvy and did not have any easy password. We reset the computer to it’s factory state to make it useable again.
Want to access their Yahoo email or close the account? Yahoo will NOT hand out the password. Google has a clear process for Google account recovery after death posted on its website. Apple? There was a story about a year ago where a widow was trying to gain access to her husband’s iPad and Apple wanted her to get a court order? You can read that story here.
The New York Times published an article on this very subject recently. You can read that here. One feature they mention is Facebook’s policy where you choose someone to be your Facebook legacy contact. This person will be able to write a post that will remain at the top of your profile, update your profile photo and respond to friend requests. You can also allow that person to download an archive of your public activity (including posts, photos and “likes”), but he or she can’t read your messages, so your most intimate secrets will be safe. Alternatively, you can set your account to delete everything once Facebook is notified of your death.
Think about all your online accounts. Banking, Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter, Social Security, The DMV, etc. Would you know how to access your spouses accounts if you needed to? I use a password manager. I keep the password manager app on my phone. My husband knows how to access my phone and how to access my passwords in the app if the need ever presented itself. Same for him.
Again, not a pleasant thought, but a necessary one.