Take Control of Your Digital Legacy, 2nd Edition

Book description

Preserve your data for posterity!
Version 2.0.1, updated February 2, 2024

How do you want to be remembered? A will takes care of your physical possessions, but what about your digital life—photos, email, files, online accounts, and so on? If you want to pass your electronic ephemera on as part of your digital legacy, turn to tech expert Joe Kissell for advice on dealing with large quantities of data, file formats, media types, the need for a “digital executor,” and more.

We all have digital data that's important to us now, but a lot of it could also be important to our children, friends, and relatives long after we're gone. But you have to take concrete steps now to make sure that data is preserved in the right way and handled according to your wishes. It’s not all about posterity either, since following Joe’s advice will also help loved ones access your key accounts and important info if you’re temporarily incapacitated, which can happen at any time.

The book will help you with these essential tasks:

  • Identify your key digital assets: online accounts, photos, audio files, videos, passwords, documents, email, and more.
  • Plan for each type of digital asset based on your priorities for today, for shortly after you are no longer around, and for posterity. Joe explains the ideal file formats to use, how to deal with social media sites, the best ways to digitize paper documents and photos, and strategies for sharing passwords with family members, among much else.
  • Communicate your wishes in a “digital will” and designate someone to be its “digital executor.” The book includes a template document that you can develop into a personalized digital will.
  • Preserve your data for the future. You’ll consider types of archival storage media, cloud-based storage services, backups, and what instructions to provide about maintaining your data as file formats and storage media types evolve.

Whether you just want to ensure that your heirs get copies of your favorite family photos and a few key documents or you want to catalog and preserve tens of thousands of digital items, this book helps you make smart decisions about your digital legacy.

Questions answered include:

  • What strategies can I use for sorting and preserving email and instant messages?
  • How can I ensure that my email account(s) will be available to those wrapping up my estate?
  • What if I have digital data that should be destroyed when I die?
  • What should I do with my huge photo collection (both digital and paper)?
  • How should I pass on control of my Apple, Google, and Microsoft accounts?
  • How can I make my passwords and passkeys available to those who will need them—but keep them private for now?
  • What should I think about when handing down purchased audio and video files?
  • What should happen to my Facebook account when I’m no longer around?
  • What choices are available for keeping my digital archive available and backed up?
  • How long should I expect archival media to last?
  • Should I write an autobituary?
  • Are online digital legacy services any good?
  • How will organizing all this stuff benefit me while I’m alive?

Table of contents

  1. Read Me First
    1. Updates and More
    2. What’s New in Version 2.0.1
    3. What’s New in the Second Edition
  2. Introduction
  3. Quick Start
  4. 1. Envision Your Digital Legacy
    1. What Your Digital Legacy Means
    2. How Digital Legacy Planning Can Improve Your Life Now
    3. Understand the Challenges
    4. Review: Estate Planning Basics
  5. 2. Inventory Your Digital Assets
    1. Begin Drafting Your Digital Will
    2. Inventory Online Accounts
    3. Inventory Your Media
    4. Inventory Software
    5. Inventory Other Personal Data
    6. Inventory Digital Currency
  6. 3. Make High-Level Decisions
    1. Determine Your Priorities
    2. Decide What to Preserve and Discard
    3. Choose a Digital Executor
    4. Decide on File Formats
  7. 4. Handle “Big Tech” Accounts
    1. Apple Accounts
    2. Google Accounts
    3. Microsoft Accounts
  8. 5. Digitize Photos and Documents
    1. Take Preliminary Steps
    2. Scan Photos and Documents Yourself
    3. Outsource Scanning
    4. Name and Organize Digitized Files
    5. Back Up Digitized Files
    6. Decide What to Do with the Originals
  9. 6. Deal with Passwords
    1. Use a Password Manager
    2. Highlight Key Accounts
    3. Give Your Digital Executor Access to Your Passwords
  10. 7. Deal with Email and Messages
    1. Understand Email Complexities
    2. Decide How Your Email Should Be Handled
    3. Add Email Instructions to Your Digital Will
    4. Handle Instant Messages and Chats
  11. 8. Deal with Social Media
    1. Review Your Social Media Accounts
    2. Decide What to Do with Each Account
  12. 9. Deal with Other Digital Data
    1. Handle Your Photos
    2. Handle Your Media
    3. Handle Your Software
    4. Handle Digital Currency
    5. Handle Other Cloud Data
    6. Handle Other Local Data
    7. Handle Backups
  13. 10. Preserve Your Data for Posterity
    1. Choose Archival Media
    2. Create a Data Archive
    3. Store Media Safely (and Redundantly)
    4. Refresh Your Archives
    5. Decide What to Do with Your Hardware
  14. 11. Create a Legacy Dossier
    1. Instructions
    2. How to Be Me
    3. A Copy of Your Will
    4. Your Digital Will
    5. Your Data (or Where to Find It)
    6. Your Hardware Security Key (if Any)
    7. Your Autobituary
    8. Genealogical and Biographical Data
    9. Store Your Dossier Safely and Accessibly
    10. Keep Your Dossier Up to Date
  15. About This Book
    1. Ebook Extras
    2. About the Author and Publisher
  16. Also by Joe Kissell
  17. Copyright & Fine Print

Product information

  • Title: Take Control of Your Digital Legacy, 2nd Edition
  • Author(s): Joe Kissell
  • Release date: February 2024
  • Publisher(s): Take Control Books
  • ISBN: 9781615424818