Once upon a time, when life was less complicated, the key to a safe deposit box was all loved ones needed to gain access to important documents and accounts following a death. Today, many aspects of our lives are lived in places accessible only by a password. We have e-mail addresses, Facebook profiles, and accounts with PayPal, eBay, and online banks. In addition, many people communicate regularly with people they know only through social networking sites.

In today’s social media-dominated world, a person’s digital presence lives on online even after he or she is gone. When a person dies, access to their accounts and contacts can be lost or extremely difficult to retrieve. As a result, a small online industry has sprung up to help people pass on the digital keys to their online lives should they die or become disabled and unable to access the information themselves or communicate their login information to their loved ones.

For example, AssetLock offers a “secure safe deposit box” to hold such things as digital copies of important documents, final messages for family and friends, passwords, hidden accounts, and lock combinations. Once a minimum number (set by the owner) of recipients sign in and
confirm the owner’s death, the account is unlocked after a time delay (which also can be set by the owner). Similar services are offered by DeathswitchLegacyLocker, and SlightlyMorbid.

Other services focus on assisting people in sending important messages to loved ones. The Digital Beyond allows users to store e-mails, photos, and videos that will be sent to those closest to them in the event of their confirmed death. Similar services are offered by EternityMessage.