The 3 Legacy’s everyone needs to know about.
Have you considered your legacy?
A legacy is described by the Oxford English Dictionary as “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will” but the word is used a lot more extensively than this. We would argue that a Legacy is “the physical, virtual and memorial assets a living person leaves behind upon their death”
When a person passes away, they will leave several legacies behind and we have grouped them into the following A Legal Legacy, A Digital Legacy and a Life Legacy. Not many of us like to think about our death, not least what we will be leaving behind. However, it is caring and considerate for us to do so, saving your family, friends and loved ones’ anguish, pain and paperwork.
A Legal Legacy is more commonly known as a will. This will dictate the value and share of your physical assets, including money and property, upon your demise. It is very important for a will to be completed when the person is of sound mind as it can save family members from falling out and a lot of legal disputes if done correctly.
A Digital Legacy is what happens to your Facebook, Twitter, Google accounts and any other online assets and data when you die. This can be a little more complicated than the Legal Legacy because you cannot round them all up as easily and today, we are keeping more and more information, images and purchases online.
If Facebook are made aware that a person has passed away, it’s their policy to ‘memorialize’ the account. Memorialized accounts are a place for friends and family to gather and share memories after a person has passed away. In Facebook, you can nominate a ‘legacy contact’. A legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your account when it becomes ‘memorialized’. Once your account is memorialized, your legacy contact can post to your profile, examples include sharing a final message on your behalf or providing information about a memorial service.They can also download a copy of what you have shared on Facebook. They never have full access to your account or the ability to change previous posts or photos. Most importantly they do not have access to your messages or the ability to ‘unfriend’ someone. You can also choose to have your account deleted when you pass away. Both of these options can be chosen under “Settings” in your Facebook account.
In the event of the death of a Twitter user, it is a little less straight forward and uncontrolled. Once a person passes away, Twitter will work with the person authorized to act on their behalf or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased to have an account deactivated. Typically they will need a copy of their ID, and copy of the deceased’s death certificate. Account access is strictly forbidden.
Google foresaw this ‘Digital Legacy’ issue many years ago when they added a service call the ‘Google Inactive Account Manager’ which allows Google account holders to nominate a friend or family member to share parts of their account data. The nominee will only receive notification once your account has been inactive for the specified amount of time –six months. If you chose to only notify your contacts of your inactive account, they’ll receive an email with a subject line and content that you wrote during setup. If you chose to share data with your trusted contact, the email will additionally contain a list of the data you have chosen to share with them, and a link they can follow to download the data.
Lastly, and in our opinion, most importantly, your Life Legacy. When you die, whether you intentionally build it or not, you will leave a Life Legacy. This is the culmination of your achievements, your personality traits, your charitable gestures, your offspring, the emotional ties and memories you have with loved ones. Most likely, your Life Legacy will be what people will talk about at your Memorial Service. Your Life Legacy is also the easiest to change. You have complete control. You may not be able to leave a vast amount of financial assets, property or you might not even be online but what you do have is life and you control the legacy you will leave. So what will you do today to change your legacy for the future?
As famed author Ray Bradbury wrote:
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way, so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”