When a person passes away, their beneficiaries take control of their assets. This usually involves friends and relatives sorting through various items and determining which pieces they want to keep or donate. However, the photos and videos you take throughout your life have a special significance to your loved ones. How can you preserve these memories? What happens to your photo memories when you die?
This guide will review what happens to your print photos and videotapes when you die – along with your digital media. It will cover your digitized files as well as your social media memories. Use this information to form a plan that ensures your loved ones have access to your memories long after you are gone.
Your Relatives Take Home Your Photos and Videos
When you die, your photos and videos are part of your estate. If you bequeath your home to your children, they will be responsible for managing the house and deciding whether or not they should sell it. This also applies to the items inside. Estate sales occur when relatives are trying to sell items inside a property that they no longer want. Most of your belongings will either be sold, donated, or thrown away.
Some items have more value than others. Your socks and used toothbrush aren’t worth keeping or selling. They lack monetary or sentimental value. However, your print photos and videos are different. These items have an emotional value. They can keep your memory alive and tie your children to who you were.
One of your beneficiaries will likely take over your photo memories when you die. They will decide whether they want to digitize the photos and videos or keep them in analog form.
Your Beneficiary Will Take Control of Your Digital Files
After your relatives pack up your physical assets, they will start to sort through your digital files. They will review and close your email accounts, delete irrelevant files and notes, and clean up your computer and other digital assets.
One of the biggest assets that you have on your computer and in the cloud are your photos and videos. Your relatives will learn where you stored these digital memories and whether they are organized or not. From there, they will decide what assets to keep and which memories to delete. Your relatives have a few options when going through your photo memories when you die:
- They can keep the photos and videos on the computer and take the physical device with them. This is the easiest option but it means the memories could be lost if the computer breaks.
- They can transfer the files to an external hard drive or USB drive that can be given to any relative. This option is ideal if your relatives don’t want to keep your computer.
- Your beneficiaries can store your photo and video memories in the cloud and share them with other relatives.
This last option is ideal for families that want to preserve your photo memories when you die. The files can easily get shared across the web and every relative can take ownership of them. In the event that your beneficiary passes away, other family members will still have the pictures and videos.
Your Relatives Will Claim Your Social Media Accounts
Along with claiming your digital files and paperwork, your relatives will also take over your social media accounts and other digital photo memories when you die. They will have to decide what to do with all of the content you have shared and the friends you have connected with over the years.
Facebook has a process where relatives can claim the accounts of the deceased. These relatives can keep the page active as a memorial to you – tagging you in their favorite memories or posting about how they miss you. They can also choose to shut down the account.
Each social media site has a different process for closing the accounts of the deceased. For example, your relative might want to keep your Facebook page live for mourners but they will want to shut down your LinkedIn page. This way recruiters won’t try to contact a dead person. Your relatives will also try to remove as much personal information as possible from the web in order to prevent scammers from impersonating you.
Consider developing a last will and testament for your social media pages. The Digital Legacy Association has a template you can use. You will list out each account, the username and password, and your wishes for the account. You can also state whether you have downloaded the photos and videos from these accounts or whether your relatives need to preserve them.
If your relatives need to download your digital media, they will likely save it with the rest of your photo memories when you die.
Prepare Files and Photo Memories When You Die
Even if you are in good health, it is never too early to start caring for your digital assets before you pass away. Countless Americans create wills each year to protect their assets even if they plan to live for decades into the future. Follow these steps to make sure your photos and videos are cared for.
- Digitize as many of your memories as you can. This will make it easy for your relatives to share your photos and videos.
- Move all of your photo and video assets to one location. (One folder, one hard drive, one cloud service, etc.) This way your loved ones don’t have to search for photos or worry about missing some.
- Create a social media will for how you want your accounts managed after you pass away.
- Document which files you own and how your relatives need to manage them. This is easier than making them search through each folder to find key memories.
Your relatives will be grieving your loss while they work through this process. You can take steps to create less work for them so they can focus on their fond memories of you. No one wants to spend the days following a death searching for passwords and trying to sort through digital files.
Start Your Digitization Project Today
Gathering your assets and digital files is a process. You don’t have to sort through all of your files in one day and it might take several weeks to feel like you have a clean digital footprint for your loved ones. However, you can take the first steps to organize your photos and videos.
At Memory Fortress, we specialize in helping people digitize all kinds of memories, from VHS and 8 mm tapes to rolls of film and print photos. We can even digitize scrapbooks. Learn more about our digitization process and take the first steps to turn your memories into preserved files today.
Michael B. – “Our large digital photo scanning job was handled with great care from start to finish. Keith and his team stayed in constant communication throughout the process. I will be using Memory Fortress for our future projects.”
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