Your Cyber Legacy

When you think about how many online accounts and profiles a typical person has, it's mind boggling.  In just a few short years, many individuals have amassed dozens of online identities: a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, a company website, various professional online profiles, subscriptions to newspapers and research materials, as well as many other online services.  It's often hard to keep track of so many websites and their various usernames and passwords.

In addition to the large volume of websites containing personal information, a person's online image has become intertwined with his or her "real world" reputation.  There have been numerous articles about employers screening potential new employees by conducting online investigations, ranging from a simple Yahoo search to more detailed online background checks.  Many people are becoming aware that unflattering pictures, poor grammar, and unsavory comments on a Facebook page can mean lost opportunities for jobs, scholarships, and volunteer activities.  While the focus has thus far been on the effect of online images on a person's lifetime reputation, not many have focused on the impact of such online identities upon a person's legacy.

Upon death, what happens to your Facebook page for example?  Do you want it to be frozen in time from the last moment you logged on?  Do you want it terminated or do you want it modified so as to serve as cyber "tribute"?  These are modern versions of the eternal question: How do you want to be remembered?  This is an important issue yet it is often overlooked in Estate Planning. 

Think about your collective cyber image from the various online identities you possess and how you might want that image modified or solidified upon death.  Take the time to articulate in writing guidelines for what should happen to every online account.

In addition, it is important to provide your trusted loved ones with access to your online accounts.  Using a service such as LegalVault ( that securely stores all of your online usernames and passwords and allows you to designate a person to have post-death access to such information can make this important, modern task much easier and thus more likely to be carried out.