There are so many issues we prefer not to think about or plan for. At the top of the list are potential disasters and certain death. Though I wrote about practical planning for death in Advice From A Risk Detective -- a will, a statement of your wishes, a power of attorney and a health care directive -- the relatively sudden death of a dear friend caused me to take that planning a bit further. My husband and I have now paid a small membership fee to join an association that takes away all the pressure and funereal sales pitches for those who are left behind. In addition to straightforward pricing, there's a form to use to express your wishes around everything from disposition, memorial gifts, organ and tissue donation to whether or not you wish a funeral ceremony or memorial service.
I've also done the research for a memorial bench with my name on it at Green Lake; and a memorial bench with nameplate for Leroy on the University of Washington campus. Cicero would have thought that took care of most everything.
But after I received Jess Mauer's final paper for my UW advanced risk course last month, I realized I had only done some of the work on this topic. Her paper broke new ground for me. This morning, we published her work in a research note titled Risks in Digital Identity After Death. There's no doubt whatsoever that an entire cottage industry is growing up around this set of risks. It's worth a read to see how much of yourself you may be leaving behind online, and to determine if there's something you want to do with it. For me, some of it is covered in my will, but as the research note points out, there's more than you might think online.