How to leave a tidy digital legacy for your family

Dealing with the financial affairs of the dead is always difficult and miserable. But the internet seems to have made it harder. People no longer just leave a physical legacy – they leave a ‘digital legacy’ too.

That includes eBay and PayPal accounts; music and film collections (you can’t usually leave these to people, but they can use them if they are customers of the same company); photo collections stored on websites or in Dropbox or another cloud account; and social media accounts. It also refers to your online bank and shopping accounts. Most people now have all these things. But very few (13%, according to Saga) have a plan as to how they should be dealt with in the event of death.

How do you make such a plan? The Saga website has a form that you can use to list your accounts, and what you want done with them, says Ruth Emery in The Sunday Times. You will mostly want them closed, but watch for a new service coming from Facebook, which will allow your profile to be “memorialised”. But this digital list isn’t something you can do and forget – our digital legacies change all the time, so you will need to update it every year. You also need to keep your passwords in a separate document.

If this is too much like hard work, you might try a new service called Lexikin. It’s a free-to-use but very secure service in which you can effectively store your entire life – accounts; passwords; will; details of charitable bequests; funeral instructions; a list of where you hold your insurances; Isa, Sipp and any other savings; details of your executors; valuations of your possessions and, perhaps most importantly, photographs, memory books and messages for your family.

On your death your family (whom the site will contact) pays £100 for access to the lot, which should slash the administration involved in probate and the financial pain too (if your belongings are already accurately valued there is less room for inheritance tax error).

The majority of the mass affluent have failed to write a proper will, to insure themselves fully, or to leave the kind of “sentimental vault” that they would probably like their children to have. All of this can be sorted out at Lexikin (they partner with charities, will writers and insurance firms).

My guess is that you are worrying about exactly what I worried about: security. If you are going to input that amount of information, you want to know it is safe. Lexikin’s answer? All the information is strictly confidential – it isn’t shared or sold. It has “industry leaders in online security” constantly testing its systems and it asks everyone to use a two-step verification process with the site. That should, I think, be enough.