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'Digital death' now haunting many families

It's a morbid thought but if you were to die, would your family know what to do? Not just your last will and testament but would they know how to access your online bills or close your Facebook account? (WBFF)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - It's a morbid thought but if you were to die, would your family know what to do? Not just your last will and testament but would they know how to access your online bills or close your Facebook account?

Chrissy Mayhew learned recently how important it is to prepare for your digital death. This year, she lost two people she considered to be her adoptive grandparents. With no other family, Mayhew was their next of kin. She was left trying to piece things together and quickly realized without their passwords she couldn't get into anything. From bills to health records and social media, she says everything is online. In this day and age, a person's digital death is now haunting many families.

Estate attorney Shannon Hammond says it's now just another part of death preparation. She says last year Maryland passed a new law, House Bill 507, which focuses on digital assets and allows you to grant a fiduciary.

Even technology is trying to keep up. Google now lets you choose up to 10 people to be the executors of your account once you die. Instagram accounts can be memorialized or if requested by a verified family member, deleted. Facebook now allows you to designate a legacy contact who can take care of your page after you die or delete it.

Which doesn't appear to be happening. Believe it or not, a report from the research firm Internet Monitor a few years ago found that between 10 and 20 million Facebook profiles likely belong to people who have passed on. The report also projected the number of dead users on Facebook will outnumber the living ones by the year 2130. The website What If projects that happening much sooner, with the living/dead ratio being passed sometime around 2065.

Grim statistics that could change if people prepare for their digital death. There are even companies that can help you organize everything. Mary Helen Denis owns My Confidant. Her company organizes everything, including passwords, into a life book to help guide your loved ones after you're gone.

Something that Mayhew has found invaluable during this difficult time. She's even making a life book for her 25-year-old son who just moved to Utah.

In the end, it's your loved ones who will be left trying to piece things together.

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