Decide who can access online accounts and digital files before you die

Have you thought about what you want to happen to your accounts, files, photos, and the rest of your online life once you’re gone? If the number of calls and requests for help I’m getting on my national radio show is any indication, do so now while you think about it.

In life, it’s hard enough to keep everything safe. That’s why I continually focus on the ever-changing steps to keep you safe. Tap or click for five smartphone security steps to take now to keep hackers and crooks out.

Your phone is not the only target. Someone with the right know-how can break into your router, your social media pages; you name it. Tap or click for some quick privacy fixes that you can complete in about 10 minutes.

Let’s get your digital life in order for those you leave behind. Take a look at this list below and you may want to nominate someone to be your “digital executor”. Find out more about this from your real estate agent.

1. Create a digital checklist

A digital checklist is not a legal document, but rather a summary of all your accounts, passwords, and online assets with instructions on how to find them. Take a look at your saved passwords in your browser so you don’t miss any accounts. Then think of other accounts like Venmo or Zelle.

This technical checklist can be as formal or informal as you want. It can be an Excel spreadsheet with websites, login information, and anything else you want to leave behind. If you go this route, password protect the file and leave the password in your will. A safer option is to use a regularly updated password manager application or program.

Alternatively, you can go low-tech using pen and paper. I selected this password book for my mom because it stores all of her passwords, accounts, and website login information in one place. Moreover, for her super secret accounts, she only writes a password hint for herself in order to protect her online web account information. It works.

2. Take care of Facebook

Facebook allows you to name a former contact who will be able to manage your account upon your death. This person can write articles, update your profile picture, and get a copy of anything you’ve done on Facebook.

• On computer: when you are logged in to Facebook, go to Settings and privacy > Settings and seek Commemoration settings.

• On mobile: select the three-line menu option at the bottom right. Scroll down to the “Settings and Privacy” accordion. Press to open it, and then select Settings. From the Account menu at the top of the next screen, select Personal and Account Information > Account ownership and control. You will see “Memorization Settings”. Click to select your old contact (and notify your contact that they are now in this role).

Once you have defined your old contact, go to the Commemoration settings. You can decide whether the person you choose can download a copy of what you have shared on your feed, including posts, photos, videos, and profile information.

Once a year, you will receive a reminder from the person you have chosen as your historical contact. If you are sure that your person will not change or that you will remember to change it if needed, you can click on “stop annual reminders” in the Annual reminder section.

If you prefer your account to be deleted after your death, go to Commemoration settings page and scroll down. Right above the Close button is an option you can click that says, “Request that your account be deleted after you die.” “

►Facebook privacy: 10 Facebook privacy and security settings you need to change right now

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3. Don’t forget Twitter

Twitter doesn’t have the same commemorative or legacy features, but it will delete a deceased person’s account. However, not everyone can ask. Twitter says it will work with someone authorized to act on behalf of the deceased or an immediate family member.

If you want to request the deletion of an account, you can submit it here. Twitter will email you instructions. Prepare with a copy of your ID and the person’s death certificate.

While this is doable, it is painful. When preparing for your own death, it’s best to leave instructions and your password in your digital checklist if you want anyone to be able to access your account.

4. There is also Instagram

Like its parent company Facebook, your family can request to delete your Instagram account or have it commemorated.

Instagram requires proof that the person is deceased to commemorate an account, such as an obituary or a news article.

If you need to delete a deceased person’s Instagram account, tap or click here to complete the report. If you choose to commemorate an account, it cannot be changed or altered in any way. This includes all previous likes, followers, tags, posts, and comments.

► Are you looking for an old friend on social networks? Here are some tips for locating someone.

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5. Wipe down your Google account

You probably have a few things in your search, watch, and locate history that you’d prefer to keep private. By setting up automatic deletion, anyone with access to your account after you leave will have access to what you want them to see.

Here’s the good news: As of June 2020, Google automatically deletes account records after 18 months by default. If you want to make this window shorter, you can do it in a few steps.

• Go to your Google activity controls and sign in with your Google account.

• Under Web and app activity you will see Automatic deletion. Make sure this is turned At.

• Click on the arrow to choose your preferred timeframe: 3 months, 18 months or 36 months.

►More Google intelligences: 7 tips for expert research

6. Lock your phone

Most of us don’t want anyone to use our phones after we’re gone. If you do, share the code in your digital checklist. Otherwise, follow these steps.

On an iPhone, activate Clear data. With this option enabled, everything will be erased from your device after 10 failed password attempts. Of course, 10 is a lot of trying, but there are 10,000 possible combinations if your password is four digits.

Go to Settings> Face ID and passcode> Enter your password. At the bottom of the menu you will see “Clear data”. Slide the button to the law to activate this setting.

Warning: If you have children, you should make backups regularly. Otherwise, if a little one picks up your phone and unsuccessfully tries to unlock it more than 10 times, you could lose everything.

Unfortunately, this feature is not native to Android phones, so you will need a third-party app.

7. Share your bank and financial details with someone you trust

Here’s another major headache for the loved ones you leave behind. Trying to access financial sites and bank accounts after a person’s death is a huge undertaking.

When compiling your digital checklist, be sure to include any accounts that a family member or trusted friend might need to access. Include your bank, (401 (k), or any retirement account, investment account, and any other place where you have funds stored.

Make sure they are all locked while waiting. Tap or click for 5 critical settings so that hackers cannot access your bank accounts.

8. Share or upload your photos

While the idea of ​​someone going through your search history and text messages is a bit unsettling, there is one thing you might want to pass on: your photos.

All the photos you have taken over the years can paint a beautiful picture in your life. You can do this in several ways.

If you only want to share specific photos, start collecting them now and add them to a folder in your photo or cloud service of your choice. Share them now or wait until later, but you will have to do so while you are still able to.

You can also download a copy of all your photos or select images and store them on your computer or an external drive. Make sure, of course, that your computer password is on your digital checklist.

If you are an Apple user, it is easy to download all your iCloud photos to Mac. Open the Photos app, then click Photos> Preferences. A menu will appear. Choose iCloud at the top and check the “Download originals to this Mac” box.

If you use Google Photos, easily archive all your photos outside of Google cloud storage using Google Takeout. Select only photos and you can even choose which albums to include in the download. This download could be huge if you have years of photos stored.

Bonus tip: Cybersecurity 101: Enter the Mind of a Black Hat Hacker

Check out my “Kim Komando Explains” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player.

Online scams are reaching new heights just about every month. How can you protect yourself? You have to get into the mind of a criminal. That’s why Kim spoke to IBM social engineer Stephanie Carruthers, aka _sn0ww, about the increase in spam that breeds fears and confusion. Listen now to stay safe there.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Check out all the latest tech on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s biggest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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