There may be a number of things on your devices that you don’t want to come to light after your death.
This could be because they are:
Whatever the reason, it is important to take steps to eliminate these things after your death.
Operation Clean Up
We suggest having someone who we will refer to as the Cleaner. This is a person who you trust implicitly to delete your dirt and keep it a secret. Curiosity will get the better of them, and they may read some of your dirt before deleting, so trust is important. This can be an overwhelming task, so make sure you leave them money in your will or look after them while you are still alive.
Ask them if they are willing to delete sensitive digital files after your death. If they are, tell them you will leave them a guide with a list of things that must be deleted and the passwords they will need to do so. Make sure they know where this list will be and leave it there at all times.
What Digital Secrets Do I Need to Eliminate?
Make a list of all the things that you do not want people to see. This is not just your family, but anyone at all. Here is an example list to use as a starting point:
Honestly, it’s best to just ask your Cleaner to completely delete your browsing history and cookies on all your devices. Ask them to do this last, as it might delete any accounts that are automatically signed in.
Favourites or Bookmarks
You might have bookmarked adult sites or other websites that you don’t want your family to know about.
Subscriptions or Memberships
No, we’re not talking about Netflix; we’re talking about subscriptions that you want to keep discreet. This could be adult website memberships, dating websites, or other services that you want to keep hidden. List all of the memberships, your passwords and instructions on how to cancel. Your Cleaner will need to delete the evidence in your emails too.
The best thing is to write a list of contacts that you want the Cleaner to search in your emails and delete all. Remind them to empty the trash in your email too. If you have a hidden email account, you might ask them to delete all emails and close the account entirely. There might be a recipient of your emails that needs to be notified of your death. Instruct them on a message to send before deleting your account.
Ask the Cleaner to delete things from online accounts such as Dropbox, Google Docs, or the Cloud.
Do you have a secret blog or website that you don’t want to be associated with you after death. Give the Cleaner instructions on how to close it and the passwords they need.
If you can keep all your files hidden in one folder, that will make the job easier. You should create a list of filenames or folders that you want your Cleaner to delete. This may be documents, videos, or photos. Remind the Cleaner to empty the Recycling Bin too. The Cleaner should repeat this for any external storage devices.
Ask the Cleaner to go through your mobile devices and delete any apps that may cause offence. They should take down dating profiles completely and cancel any paid subscriptions for the apps.
Social Media and Other Messages
If you sent messages over text or other social media that might be taken out of context or otherwise be embarrassing or harmful, then ask the Cleaner to delete these. You may ask them to delete all your message history or just ask them to delete the message history of particular people. Create a list of all the apps and the people that need to be dealt with. If you were seeing someone secretly, you might need to ask the Cleaner to notify them of your death. Write a message for them to send the contact before deleting the chat history.
Unknown contacts may raise some questions when your family is notifying people of your death. Delete any contacts that you do not want them to see.
This list is a starting point; you need to comb through each device and think about what you don’t want people to find. Remember, family and friends will be going through devices and looking for pictures or creating memorial social media. You don’t want people stumbling across things that are embarrassing or hurtful to them or another family member.
Finally, your Cleaner will know all of the skeletons in your closet after this. They might have their opinion of you completely turned on its head. Leave them a short message thanking them for their help. If you can, perhaps leave them a little gift in your will.