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After Your Final Log-off

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After Your Final Log-off

There are a variety of events in life that trigger forward-looking plans – having kids and buying a home come to mind.  Once those events occur, the responsible thing is to plan for the “what if” so loved ones know your wishes and are able to carry them out without second guessing.

What about your online life?

Not to be morbid – but have you considered what loved ones should do about your online life after you log off for the last time?  It may not sound terribly important, but think about it.

Living out loud online

We share photos and videos on Facebook, many of them being mobile uploads that may not exist anywhere else.  Do you want loved ones to keep them?

Your blog posts (and photos/videos) are your intellectual property, and need to be protected.  And, what about followers on Twitter and blogs?  Would you want any final posts or messages sent?

Do you have a set of instructions, including user names & passwords so accounts can be closed/stripped/transferred, etc.?

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Beyond your bank account

Consider also the sites that are commerce-related and tied to a credit card or bank account, like eBay and PayPal.  Those need to be closed immediately to prevent opportunistic access and wrongdoing by insidious predators.  You may also have recurring payments for web hosting or your blog.  Perhaps renewal dates and amounts should be included in your instructions.

The death letter

Again, sorry for the morbid pall.  It’s not a comfortable topic, yet my father seems to like to bring it up on occasions – like say … Father’s Day.

For years, he’s prepared what I’ve lovingly come to refer to as “the death letter”.  Starting when I was about 18, every time he would go on vacation, he’d send me a detailed letter outlining everything I need to know and what to do.  Often, he would forget to warn me of the nature of the parcel.  Needless to say, when I’d open and read the seemingly innocent communication, I’d fall apart.

Over the years, he’s learned to tell me ahead of sending it, so I can tuck it away unopened (yes, under lock and key) and pretend it will never apply.  That brings about banter regarding “the need to be familiar with everything” so I can ask questions now, if needed.  I like to remind him that if there’s anything I don’t understand or do correctly, it really won’t be his problem.  Ugh.  It just feels like bad juju to discuss, but I suppose it’s the responsible and adult thing to do.

What other aspects of our online lives should be documented ‘just in case’?

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Chris

    June 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I’ve often wondered about my online possessions … I’m here for the comments now.

  2. Bill Lublin

    June 23, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Oddly enough after the final log off there are still some pieces of your presence that can be a place for your family and friends to remember you – or speak to you even if you can’t respond – not at all a bad thing
    An unusual post, but I liked it… #jussayin

  3. LesleyLambert

    June 24, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I never even thought of this…great point and I will add it to my planning!

  4. Joe Loomer

    June 24, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I lost my mother last October, and we’re still trying to resolve outstanding bank balances and other assets. This despite a detailed will. I don’t think she ever touched a computer – and she refused to own a cell phone. It really gets me wondering what other issues we would have if she had an online footprint. She wrote extensively (the old fashioned way), but not one word of it appears on any server, anywhere.

    In contrast, I’m now somewhat baffled by what to do about my family’s actions online – how do we wish to protect our legacy in this age? How does one truly “Log Off” for the last time? Guess this isn’t really helping with your question:

    “What other aspects of our online lives should be documented ‘just in case’?”

    My wife keeps a detailed list of every account, website, and other portal and the passwords to get in to each. I guess this could be construed as her “online will?”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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