Access to the Email Account Wanted

Frequently Bequeathed Digital Artifacts and Assets

Susan knew that physical possessions always get sorted out in one way or the other. She was curious about what actually happens to the digital stuff. She had a hard time because she couldn’t find much information and she felt like she was probably the only person who feels that this is important. However, in a short time this topic started to be discussed in newspapers and on many blogs. She found particularly striking that most of the web-based services don’t acknowledge for the possibility of the users’ death. She was baffled when she read a newspaper article about the case of a family who were suing ‘Yahoo!’ in order to get access to an email account of their son, who was a U. S. marine and died in Iraq. Susan became especially careful with keeping all her important information in a separate folder, so it could be accessible even after her death without having to go through court.

Other Digital Artifacts Worth of Consideration

Our lives are increasingly mediated by the digital technologies and the Internet. We use them to communicate, shop, for entertainment and so on. In our personal information management, we often only pay attention to the most obvious digital artifacts, such as our computers or cell phones, the information contained within these and the digital assets like email accounts or social networking profiles. But our practices should also address other digital items.

Some of the services we use contain our personal information, which should be maintained up-to-date, as it may cause problems when it’s not. Some of them, like PayPal or eBay, actively operate with our money funds, which should be acknowledged in our legal arrangements. However, they communicate with us exclusively online, so it may be hard for our bereaved to discover them in order to put our matters to rest. The same applies to shopping websites, such as Amazon, online subscriptions that charge us periodically, such as MegaVideo and the like. If we have a personal blog or a website, we need to pay regularly for the domain name and hosting services in order to maintain them alive. Recently, even the services that we use in our physical lives, switched their communication with us to digital form and we may receive phone or electricity bills via email. Discovering the respective provider may be time-consuming if we don’t provide any additional information.

All of this information is of extreme importance to the bereaved in order to put our matters to rest after we pass away. Due to their lack of evidence and the limited access through password-protected accounts, we should include these in our personal inventories or even in our digital estate plans.