Pass on your passwords, or your family’s digital memories will die with you – Telegraph.co.uk

They say that unless provision is made for passwords to be passed on to surviving family members photographs, music and other personal items stored online will be lost.

Worse still vital access to funds could be delayed if no provision is made to pass online banking details onto surviving family members in the event of our death.

The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) is to launch a campaign  urging people to leave clear instructions, alongside their wills, on how loved ones can access social media, bank accounts and online collections of photographs, music, films and books that could otherwise be lost forever.

They say it might still be a taboo subject, but it is one that needs to be addressed before that person passes away.

All SAIF’s funeral directors are being sent copies of a new booklet to give to members of the public that includes advice on safeguarding their ‘digital legacy’.

SAIF, which represents more than 870 independent funeral directors across the UK, says people need to be more open about their end of life wishes to to avoid further anguish for those left behind.

Terry Tennens, Chief Executive of SAIF, said: “Simple things such as photographs, which in the past we could have flicked through in a printed album, are now stored online. Whilst we’re encouraged to protect these digital activities with passwords, what happens to them when we die?

“Worrying about social media accounts may seem trivial to some people but that carefully honed Facebook page and those precious tweets may be a gift for loved ones. With younger families in particular sharing and storing photos almost exclusively online, all of that can be lost if login details and passwords are unknown.”

Mr Tennens added: “We would encourage people to leave clear instructions about what should happen to their emails, social networking sites and other online accounts. It may be sensible to highlight any login details or passwords in a separate document alongside their will.”

SAIF says that social media is just the start of the potential problems caused by families increasingly storing vital information in purely digital form, particularly with growing numbers of people using online banking and no longer received paper statements through the post.

“Whoever is dealing with your assets might not even know the accounts exist – and they are not going to receive a paper statement to alert them otherwise,” said Mr Tennens.

“We would advise everyone to be aware of their online investments. Keep a log of them, including passwords, and remember to update details of what they are and where they are.

“Remember, whoever is going to organise your finances will need to be able to trace what is in your estate – or they may be lost forever.”

The advice on safeguarding digital legacies is part of SAIF’S Five Things To Do Before You Die campaign, which encourages people to record their end of life wishes for loved ones.

This includes:

1.    Making a will

2.    Recording funeral wishes – including whether or not an individual wants to be buried or cremated, type of venue and the flowers, music and readings to be used

3.    End of life care and support – including details of where an individual would like to be cared for and practical issues such as who should look after pets

4.    Organ donation

5.    Keeping loved ones up to date with where all important documentation is stored, including passwords for digital and social media accounts

Mr Tennens said: “Most of us avoid thinking about end of life planning until the last moment. Perhaps it is a fear that by doing so we will somehow speed its arrival. Although it’s a difficult and often taboo subject, it’s very important that our loved ones are aware of our wishes after we have passed away.”

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