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March 05, 2022

Websites manage your online accounts after you die

There’s no shortage of differences between two-thousand-and-ten and, say, nineteen-hundred-and-ten.

In 1910, the Union of South Africa was created. In 2010, a 'We Are The World' remake starring Justin Bieber was created. In 1910, the first infrared photographs were published. In 2010, the first photos of Greg Oden’s, uh, manhood were published. In 1910, this was Jack Johnson. In 2010, this is Jack Johnson.

Yet this year, in this age, there's one thing more dissimilar (and more complicated) than anything else was one century ago: death.

After all, what to do with that Facebook account, those email addresses and that online banking profile once you perish?

The digital-savvy among us need not fret, though, for services that aim to manage our “digital remains” have come to the rescue.

According to, at least three subscription websites now offer posthumous protection and insurance for your passwords, usernames, final messages or whatever in a “virtual safe-deposit box” online.

“After you’re gone, these companies carry out last wishes, alert friends, give account access to various designated beneficiaries, and generally parse out and pass on your online assets,” notes the magazine’s Scott Brown.

The three sites –, Legacy Locker and – offer this protection for an assortment of rates; for about $10-$30 per year or $60-$300 for a lifetime, depending on your service terms.

DeathSwitch, for example, works like this: after you’ve loaded up your online accounts and information, the site prompts you to enter a secure password on a pre-determined schedule to prove you’re still alive. If you fail to enter the code, DeathSwitch “deduces you are dead or critically disabled,” and any accounts you wish to be shuttered are closed … any messages you wish to be sent are passed on.

The other sites, perhaps more conveniently, only need your beneficiaries to notify the digital insurers you have passed. No repeated password entry needed.

Is this a perfect system? Of course not. But there is something to these sites, you can see it. We may scoff at the need to protect our online assets now, but as social networks become less social and more business-oriented, there’s a discernible value behind caring for our Internet likeness.

Call it a digital will, if you will.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...