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What Happens to Your Blog After You Die?

I wrote about this on BlogHer, but I think it bears repeating.  One day, we won’t be here.  But our social media accounts will be.  And the time to decide what to do about them is… now.

People who are dying often think long and hard about making life easier for others after they’re gone.  But the reality is that none of us know when we’re going to go.  A simple thing we can do for the people we leave behind is give them the keys and directions to what we want done with our online life after we’re gone.

Don’t bookmark this post and then put off the tasks indefinitely.  Set aside one hour today to make sure that you take these steps before you’re gone.


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Image: Mike Babcock via Flickr

Password Passbook

There will be plenty of questions that our loved ones never thought to ask that will plague them after we’re gone. Don’t make passwords one of these things. They are a simple piece of information you can leave behind for someone you trust who may need to get into your accounts after you’re gone. Yes, some sites will help your loved ones gain access, but really, don’t make them jump through hoops while they’re grieving.

Create a simple, three-column document… on paper.  Why save it on paper instead of on the computer itself?  Because a document containing passwords could be found on a computer simply by searching for the word “password.”  The point is to make this document as simple and straightforward as possible, so a grieving family member can utilize it to get into your accounts.

The three categories should be site name, user name, and password.  You can additionally write the answer to any security questions you have on the account.

Put this information in a sealed envelope, and store it in a safe place in the house with other important papers.  Update it regularly and reseal it in a new envelope every time information changes or a new account is added.

Be Clear With Family

What would you want placed online after death? An announcement? Would you want your sites taken down? Left up for eternity? Now is the time to make those decisions.

Clearly write out instructions on what you want to have go up online as well as what you want to have happen to each of your accounts.  Some sites will allow family members to memorialize or delete accounts even without your password, but really, in a time of mourning, you can make things easier for the people left behind if they know specifically what you want (or don’t want) done.

Create a document where you walk through, site-by-site, what you want stated (or not stated) on each account as well as whether to keep up the account untouched, memorialize it, or delete it after a set amount of time.

Social Media Upkeep

It’s not enough to tell family members that you want your blog to remain online for eternity.  If you self-host your site, you need to give clear instructions on how to keep renewing your domain year after year.  You need to create a document that gives your blog host name, your domain host information (if it differs from your host), and the dates that each aspect of your account renews.

If you are choosing not to renew a self-hosted account indefinitely, know that the domain will be lost if it’s not renewed, and your family members will be locked out of your site’s dashboard.  Actually, make sure your loved ones know this fact, so they can act in a timely manner after your death.

Designate a Social Media Helper

Not every person in your life feels comfortable or familiar with social media.  You can do your loved ones a favour by designating someone to be their social media helper in your absence.  This can be a trusted friend that they can ask questions if they arise after your death.  How to renew a domain name, how to clean out your direct messages on Twitter, or how to search Gmail are all things people unfamiliar with these services may have difficulty navigating, especially those who don’t spend a lot of time online.  Give them the name and email address of a person who has agreed to help them out after you’re gone.

Listen, no one wants to think about the day they won’t be here.  But just as people construct a will for their personal possessions to make their wishes clear, we need to make a plan for our online content and accounts.  The loss of you will be hard enough.  Don’t make it more difficult for the people left behind to decide what to do and how to access the online accounts that were important to you in life.

12 comments

1 a { 03.27.14 at 8:22 am }

I was having an anxiety moment not too long ago, and wrote down all the passwords and stuff. I happened to look at it the other day, and realized I needed to update all the passwords.

When my mom died last year, we mostly used her computer to take care of things (like Facebook), because she was kind enough to leave herself logged in to most sites. And her method of password reminders was a large amount of post-it notes all over her computer desk. But I was certainly glad she had that stuff there, so we were able to log in to everything and cancel or alert people.

2 Kitten { 03.27.14 at 9:43 am }

This is great information! I use Google products (Gmail, Docs, etc), which allows you to set inactivity alerts. If you don’t log in for 2 months, the system sends you a text message or email to another account. If you don’t respond to that, it sends a message to whoever you designated letting them know that you haven’t been active in 3 months (you get to personalize the message). That person has the option of accessing your Google account. I use Google docs to provide instructions about what to do if I die, how to find my passwords, etc. I haven’t mentioned my blog, though, so I appreciate your advice. I will update it today!

3 Sharon { 03.27.14 at 12:32 pm }

Great advice. I have thought often about doing this, but like so many things, I haven’t gotten around to it.

4 GeekChic { 03.27.14 at 12:39 pm }

I use a password manager to handle all of my passwords. I use KeePass but there are plenty of others. My husband and attorney know how to access KeePass and that’s all they need to do. I think both are grateful that I don’t have any social media accounts to worry about… 😉

5 oilandgarlic { 03.27.14 at 4:11 pm }

I’m trying to gather the “last post’ for various bloggers. Maybe not surprisingly infertility blogs are useful because people tend to end them after ending their journey but leave their blogs up to help others. I’m having a hard time finding posts in general because most people to seem delete their blog. I really hate it when bloggers do that!

6 St. Elsewhere { 03.28.14 at 4:47 am }

I wouldn’t be able to die suddenly. My blog would remain till Blogger closes it, because my blog is a secret for my family.

I often see the name of a dead-now student pop up as “People you may know” on FB. We have lot of mutual friends. But she is dead and no one closed her account. It feels bizarre to see her name there, almost startling.

7 St. Elsewhere { 03.28.14 at 4:48 am }

hmmmm…..”No one can remove my blog if I were to die suddenly.”

8 Petunia { 03.29.14 at 12:24 am }

I had a boss die suddenly over the weekend nearly 12 years ago. He said goodnight to us on Friday and never showed up on Monday. Being the second in command, I had to find a way to access his e-mail account to continue conducting business for the organization. It required a great deal of time going back and forth with AOL. This post reminded me that I need to have a list of my passwords written down for my husband. Thanks for sharing!

9 Kathy { 03.30.14 at 4:14 pm }

This is great, Mel! Bittersweet, but some important to think about…Of course I didn’t act the day I first read it and don’t have time now. But am leaving the window open on my computer and hopefully will carve out some time soon.

10 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.31.14 at 5:34 pm }

I had this and the BlogHer one saved in Feedly because I want to do this soon.

An online friend recently died and I’ve been wondering if anyone will handle her blog and other online presences.

Aside: it’s weird when Facebook brings up a long-gone friend in your stream for some reason.

11 Battynurse { 04.03.14 at 12:22 am }

Good ideas. I probably really should make out a list and give it to a couple of friends.

12 Tiara { 04.10.14 at 1:16 pm }

This is very useful information. I’ve been having experience with this recently with my Aunt’s passing. I lost access to her facebook & can’t get any response from them. I was told her account could be made into a memorial page but can’t make any headway.

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