[BLOG] Why you need an ‘online will’
A certain young lady, while travelling for her National Youth Service Corps programme got involved in a road accident and unfortunately lost her life. She was the pride of her parents having lived an exemplary life and graduated with honours from the University.
Her parents, now having to deal with the loss of their daughter, have resigned to holding onto every bit of memory of her. In their time, all they probably would have done was look at her diaries, private note pads, picture albums to preserve her fondness and legacy.
But things have changed, younger people no longer rely on such tools to document their experiences, they use the internet. Facebook, YouTube, PayPal etc, are a lot more effective and easy to share. However, she is dead and she was the only person who had access to her accounts, a situation that has ironically made matters worse for her parents. How can they now have access to all her online assets?
This unfortunately is the same situation most of us might find ourselves in these days of social media ubiquity. Nowadays, we all have various social media accounts where we share pictures, blogs, articles, opinions, videos, ideas, gossips, music, history and even save money.
Just think about it, most things we do today are represented in our emails, Facebook, Flickr, twitter, blogger, PayPal etc. It’s a lot of information that posses inherent value even if we do not know how to monetise them. Imagine that you own a blog where loads of information have been stored over time with value proportionately built with it? How would you want that value utilised when you are no more alive?
The pictures and videos that you religiously upload everyday, what happens to them? Do they just go extinct in the guise of guarding privacy covenants with service providers? What about an online account where you have money saved for earning online income? Who gets the benefit of it when you pass on? It’s a risk that exists; yet we all are not familiar with it.
I believe all this can be easily mitigated if we simply just keep an ‘online will’ that provides family with detailed instruction of passwords, right to online materials such as pictures, videos, blogs, articles, manuals, books, money etc. These are all assets and should be treated as one will treat land and building, intellectual property rights, cash, shares etc.
Websites that provide such services also have a role to play by providing users with options on transfer of account information in case of death or brain damage. I once read sites like ‘Legacy Locker’, ‘Entrustet’ provide users with a plan for online life after death. Even the government has a role to play by being proactive in enacting legislation and regulation that aid proper transfer and utilisation of online assets over time.
Nigeria has over five million Facebook users and millions more on several other online social media platforms like Skype, YouTube, Yahoo etc. This is a tremendous wealth of ‘information asset’ that the country can immensely benefit from. Yet the power to unlocking that value lies in the hands of service providers that pay their taxes to foreign governments.
China, the country with the highest population in the world has its own version of twitter and Facebook, Sina Weibo, Renren and gives its local versions a lot more freedom to operate than their foreign counterparts. Nigeria, the country with the highest population in Africa, should replicate that.
For some of us who fervently use online services to share experiences, it is incumbent on us to realise that when we die, our experiences, photos, videos, money, blogs, messages etc, do not die with us but live after us and in the control of the people that we so choose. Our legacy and asset must continue to thrive despite the inevitability of death.
I am Ugodre Obi-Chukwu. I am a Chartered Accountant with over 10 years experience in Financial Management, Treasury, Tax, Corporate Finance and Financial Modeling. I am also the Founder of Resourcedat, Nigeria’s First Online Document and Data Sharing website.
On “Ugometrics, I blog about finance, economics and small business tools that aid decision making for small business and entrepreneurs. By asking intuitive questions, I also try to demystify popular norms that affect the way we live, think and off-course spend money. It’s my Metric
Follow me on twitter @ugodre for regular updates of my post and tweets
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