Digital Death: Popular Mechanics makes a digital coffin

Posted on by Mike Evans

Looks like my post on digital assets on Saturday has caused a lot of interest. Making a Will or ensuring a trusted person knows the passwords to bank accounts is something few of us think about. But the consequences of dying without leaving instructions can be far reaching and potentially disastrous. Instead of dying intestate we’re now in danger of dying unloggedin.  In the old days it was simple—a quick house clearance and a call to the local bank manager was about it. Now, our lives are lived increasingly in a digital world.

It’s comforting, therefore, to know that Popular Mechanics can help you construct a Digital Coffin. Seriously, though, this is a huge subject and one that older people, in particular, need to think about carefully. My idea of using 1Password as a sort of Digital Will has sparked the imagination and I now intend to revise my rather untidy 1Password datafile in a more executor-friendly way.

It has occurred to me that my executors wouldn’t even be able to access any of my computers, never mind my 1Password file. I’m they would know how to circumvent the limited-security user login but, at least, they could do it with the help of an expert.

Yet when Apple introduces its improved File Vault in Lion this summer I imagine more and more of us will be encrypting our drives. We need to make sure the 1Password file is accessible from Dropbox. One obvious solution would be give a trusted family member access to your 1Password file via a Dropbox shared folder. It needs careful thought, for obvious security reasons, but it is possible.

Once the 1Password file is available, all an executor should need to know is the master password, then all will be revealed. I intend to add notes so even a non-tech savvy family member can decide which digital assets are worth attention and those that are of no interest. While a carefully crafted 1Password file isn’t a substitute for a legal Will, it is certainly a perfect way to maintain a living, up-to-date overview of your digital life.

When I’ve worked out a useful system involving 1Password I’ll keep you all informed.

NOTE: I have started the ball rolling with a 1Password forum topic and it’s getting attention. It’s interesting to see the comments form other forum members. Click here to view.


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