[GLLUG] Digital provision in wills

DL Neil GLLUG at GetAroundToIt.co.uk
Fri May 22 09:23:33 UTC 2015

Dear John,

On 22/05/15 20:47, John Levin wrote:
> Dear list,
> Somewhat tangental, but a serious matter. What provisions have people
> put in their wills for their digital presence?
> By which I mean their computers, their domain names, hosting
> arrangements and website contents, github accounts etc.
> And how has this been arranged? What provision has been made for passing
> on passwords upon death, but only to designated people and only at that
> time?

Haven't put it into a Will, as such - although your question does raise
one in my mind: if someone else, eg an executor, needs to prove (s)he
has authority to act in some digital context on my (demised or
incapacitated) behalf.

The latter point leads one towards "living wills" or more formally
"Power of Attorney", and thus the ability for A.N.Other to act should
one become unable, temporarily or otherwise. I hold two of these for my
(aged?sainted) mother: one is financial in nature and the other grants
me authority in medical situations. They are a really good idea!

As an expatriate, (living and working overseas), and given the
relatively small amount of time I have spent in the UK, even when I'm
'home' I still somewhat feel as if I'm in a bit of a 'foreign' situation
and the CO's family don't live in the UK anyway; I have long maintained
the logistical equivalent of asking a neighbor to hold onto a spare key
for my front door. (similarly sibling in-laws asked us to undertake to
care for their kids should something terrible happen to them).

Wherever I am, someone (trust factor necessary) will hold a sealed
envelope containing as many details as I can collect. Most obviously,
when overseas, this includes contact details for family back-home (who
likely the friend doesn't know/has never met!) - in case the 'whatever'
happens to my wife as well. It also includes a list of assets and
ownership, eg if the car is under hire purchase with A.W.Banker. In
recent decades this has been extended to include my ISP and hosting
providers, plus the contact details of my clients' webmasters or
marketing wonks, et al. The idea is that should something happen to me,
the envelope would be opened and provide a minimum of information to the
person kind-enough to 'take care of things'.

The facility has never been needed, thank goodness. However I recall
colleagues blindly fleeing the (1990) Gulf War, and then having the
effrontery to demand that we, who bravely?stupidly?dutifully staying
behind, clean up the personal messes they'd left, pack-up their offices
and homes, liquidate their assets (presumably returning them a profit?)
and organise shipping - all whilst figuring-out how we would defend
ourselves and subsequently fight a war. Yeah right! (polite form of
verbalisation) Some of these were bureaucratic nightmares, and it was
surprising how angry said deserters became when things didn't (all) go
their way and in very short periods of time... Sorry, that's a bit of an
extreme example, but possibly less final than someone's actual death.

So your suggestion is a sensible precaution, and a logical extension of
the above into the digital arena. I list the passwords - which becomes a
hassle when things change/a drag on what should be a more frequent
precaution. I wonder if any service providers have a facility whereby I
can say that 'this person' is authorised to request a new password under

Be aware that such legal courses and instruments may?will vary between
jurisdictions - and that I am NOT a lawyer!


PS list police: my list includes *Linux* server passwords, etc.

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