Emma Myers of Saga Legal Services shares valuable advice with this step by step guide.

These days we can do almost everything online, from banking and food shopping to meeting friends. This leaves behind a digital footprint, which raises the question about what happens to our online presence when we pass away, and more importantly how we can plan for it. Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services shares valuable advice on how to preserve your digital legacy with this step by step guide.


The concept of a digital legacy is relatively new so there aren’t yet substantial legal procedures in place to protect your online presence when you pass away. However, not preparing your digital legacy could cause a great deal of distress – and even financial struggles– for your loved ones after you’ve gone.


1. Complete the Saga Legal Services directory of online accounts. Simply print this out, fill it in and store alongside your will. This will act as a map to all your online accounts making sure your family or executors are able to find them easily.

2. Use the online directory to specify what you want to happen to each account.

Online bank accounts: These should automatically shut down as a result of the normal bank account being closed. To be on the safe side, specify in your letter of wishes that your online account should also be deactivated.

E-mail accounts: Request to have these closed upon your passing unless they are shared with a spouse in which case you may want to leave it to their discretion.

Social media pages: These sometimes offer the option of closing down the account or turning it into a memorial page. Many of these services require a link to a website to serve as proof of death. This could be a small online obituary – something requested in a letter of wishes, a non-legally binding document stored alongside your will. Facebook has recently launched a legacy feature, which allows users to appoint a ‘Legacy Contact’ in the settings menu. The person can then either memorialise the account or shut it down. This service also prevents references to the account popping up on the timeline.

Online shopping accounts: It may not seem important to close these down immediately but as you may know, these accounts often retain sensitive banking information as well as personal details. Be cautious and request for the accounts to be deactivated.

Regular online payments: Some online services require a monthly subscription which is taken out of your account by Direct Debit. Whilst these would be frozen as soon as the death certificate is registered and provided to the bank, payments might still slip through. Shutting down these accounts will help to avoid this.

Music and films: Many people use the internet to download films, music and TV shows. What you may not realise is that you are not paying to own the content in a real sense, more that you are paying for a licence to use it during your lifetime. Depending on which outlet the agreement is with, there may not be a way around this but checking with the company in question is a good place to start. It may be possible to bequeath your licence to someone who’ll be able to make further use of it.

3. Download the digital deactivation document and store with your Will both in print format, and on a USB stick. This will ensure your executors receive the key information they need to close accounts and will make their lives much easier.

4. Keep your online directory updated. We often open new accounts when using services online so it’s important to keep your directory up to date. The great thing about using an online vault is that it makes it extremely straightforward to update your Online Directory at the click of a button.

5. Consider using the internet as a memorial tool. The final part of digital legacy planning is to think about whether you might want to use the internet as a way of being remembered, for example turning your social media profiles into memorial pages along with your blogs and photo pages, and compiling a last tweet or Facebook status.

For more information on Digital Legacy or to download the free Saga guide on the subject, visit www.Saga.co.uk/legal.

August 2015