Selecting a Digital Executor

Tombstone with text: Please Delete My Facebook

With all of the conversation surrounding the digital afterlife, one thing is certain: you can’t deal with it by yourself.  You need a person or a service to help you. Services are popping up left and right, just check our (hopefully) comprehensive list. Still, for some things, you really need someone to help you out.  We (among others) have been calling this person a digital executor: a person whom you designate to execute your digital estate.

So, what makes a good digital executor?  As I see it, there are three critical components: trust, distance and capability.  I’ll address them in that order.


Seems pretty simple, right? In fact, it is.  You need to select someone who will respect your wishes and faithfully carry out your digital will. I don’t think there’s any more to say here.


Your executor needs to be close enough to you that you can trust them (see above), but needs to be somewhat distanced from you for a couple of reasons.  If you choose someone like your spouse or significant other there’s a greater chance that they will pass at the same time you do.  Then, of course, your digital will would not be carried out, unless you had others in place as well. It’s also important to have a person that will carry out your will without hesitation.  Those close to you may have trouble with deleting files or profiles (should that be your wish) in the name of preserving  your memory.


Finally, you should find someone who is up to the task and there are a few dimensions of this.  First, they should have access to your information.  However you choose to store you authentication information and wishes, they should be capable of accessing it.  Second, they should have the appropriate technical savvy.  Want your Facebook account deleted? You might want to choose someone who has a Facebook account.  Enough said.  Finally, they need to outlive you.  This goes back to distance, but you should think about age too.  When you’re young, someone from your own generation is likely suitable, but as you get older someone from the next generation may be more appropriate.

I’m sure there’s other considerations given your unique situation, but it’s my hope that this list will give you some helpful tips to get started.

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