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Transcript: Death and digital assets

Published: Today at 10: 05 AM GMT Update History

The transcript for ICAEW Insights in Focus podcast episode 25: 'Death and digital assets'.

Jamie Bartlett

Welcome to ICAEW’s Insights In Focus podcast with me, Jamie Bartlett. This week, we're going to be talking about digital assets, and particularly digital assets when we die. Now, all of our lives are lived online, we sort of say that all the time, but increasingly, so are our deaths as well. I mean, we all have a huge digital footprint that we're creating all the time, it’s getting bigger and bigger. Some of that is real assets: financial and emotional things that we value, the passwords that we have to get into our accounts, all sorts of things now that we do online that, well, when we die, what really happens to them? How should we deal with that? How and what should we pass on? But we don't really like to talk about death, of course, none of us do. But we're used to it in some ways in the offline world. We have systems and techniques and institutions that we know how work, but I don't think we're quite there yet with the digital equivalent. So, to help us think this through and figure out what a good digital legacy looks like, we've got some amazing guests with us today. So, first of all, we have Elaine Kasket, who is a psychologist and author and the bereavement lead at the Digital Legacy Association, and her latest book is All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of Your Personal Data. Elaine, welcome.

Elaine Kasket

Thanks so much. It sounds from your descriptions like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, talking about those things for this exact podcast title today.

Jamie Bartlett

Pretty much designed for you, yeah. We also have David Lyford-Tilley from the Tech Faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, who specialises in technology and the profession. Welcome, David.

David Lyford-Tilley

Thanks very much, Jamie, for having me. Very much looking to bring the technology angle to the whole discussion.

Jamie Bartlett

And finally, Catherine Mayer, who is the co-founder of the Women's Equality Party and the Primadonna Festival, and she's also the executive producer of the double album The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, her memoir Good Grief: Embracing Life at a Time of Death, which was written with her mother, Anne Mayer Bird. And I've known Catherine for a while as well. Catherine, thanks so much for joining us today.

Catherine Mayer

You're welcome. I wish I didn't have expertise in the matters we're going to be discussing, but I'm afraid I've got rather a lot of it.

Jamie Bartlett

Exactly. Well, let's start. Let's start with you. All of your incredible achievements – we've barely listed hardly any of them to be honest – alongside all of that, you had your partner with you, beside you all the time, hardly someone who was an underachiever himself. Could you just tell us a little bit about your relationship with Andy Gill.

Catherine Mayer

I was, for nearly 30 years, with Andy – married for more than 20 of those years. He was the co-founder and only consistent presence in the band Gang of Four, as well as being a kind of prolific producer and composer. And one of the, you know, rated very often as one of the world's greatest guitarists. So, we were together, we were very close. And then at the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, he died. And this was only just over a month after my stepfather died, widowing my mother, who was at the time in her late 80s. So, I found myself in the very first lockdown as a new widow, dealing with all sorts of very complex issues around death and digital legacy. Also for my mother, who of course, you know, at its most basic level, a lot of the bureaucracy of death is anyway already online, but was forced even more so by the pandemic and by offices being shut. And it's something that she'd never dealt with. But I also was dealing with, and continue to deal with, the large music estate. And also, Andy was a public figure, so, you know, his death trended on Twitter – opinions about his death, about who he was, about why he died, conspiracy theories, all of that came to…. [CUTS OFF]

Jamie Bartlett

Normally I would be very, sort of, nervous about talking about any of this with you. But you've obviously tried to, sort of, be very public about it, and online as well as in your in your book. We'll get into some of the details of the difficulties, but could you explain a bit about your approach? Because you've obviously just made a decision to, sort of, celebrate Andy’s life very, sort of, proactively. What did you do and what was your thinking behind it?

Catherine Mayer

It's funny because it actually changed quite markedly and very early on. On the day that he died, we were literally sitting in the hospital. So, there was one respect in which I was much luckier than most of the pandemic bereaved. He died so early in the pandemic that they hadn't shut hospitals yet. And so I was sitting there with the people who had been in the final line-up of that incarnation of the band, and some other close friends, and they were sort of saying: “Look, he's a public figure, we have to put out a statement”. And we were discussing already that kind of digital interface. And I remember thinking, although I am, you know, have been a prolific user of social media, it has been as an activist and campaigner. And very, very rarely to put anything personal on there. In fact, that consciousness was formed by being married to a public figure and having a lot of friends who were in the public eye, that in fact, I was very cautious about ever doing anything personal online, because it felt intrusive. And so my idea was that I would share the news that was put out by the band on my social media feeds, and then go into the deepest, darkest hole that I could find and not interact with the world at all. And I found very quickly that that initial assessment didn't fit with what I wanted to do. And there were various reasons for that. But as you say, there was something about the need to celebrate and assert what I use – the hashtag #thelovelydead. And it's because, I mean, it was partly about celebrating Andy, it was primarily about celebrating Andy. But it was also to say that the dead are part of life. Because one of the things you realise when you're first bereaved is that the very first thing that people will do is try and assure you that “don't worry, they'll be out of your life, soon, this will pass, they will pass, it will go away, you will be the same as you were before”, and that's not true. And nor should it be true, because they are a beautiful presence in your life if you allow them to be so. And it's a kind of misconception about, you know, the stages of grief are some kind of obstacle course that you're supposed to rush through. So, I had lost not only Andy and my stepfather, but in the years immediately leading up to that, also my best friend, my stepsister, other close friends. And I wanted actually to celebrate all of them, and to help other people who were in grief to understand that they didn't have to rush through it. And then, of course, very quickly after that, as the toll of the COVID dead ticked upwards, I started thinking about the numbing effect that those figures had, and the way in which it meant that people, rather than understanding each death as the individual lost and all of the people around them impacted, that they were becoming numb to it. So, the second reason for beginning to be much more public about it was to insist on the humanity of every single person who died and to advocate for people who didn't have a platform.

Jamie Bartlett

It was a real shock and a horrible surprise for you. Presumably you weren't sort of ready for it, you weren't prepared for the thing – I don't mean the event itself, but I mean all the administrative and, sort of, the things you have to do afterwards, because you say a little bit about, I suppose all the things that none of us want to think about, which are: what are the boring and difficult technical things that you then have to deal with? Especially when it comes to somebody with a very large online and digital presence.

Catherine Mayer

So, Andy died without a will, and no other kind of preparation whatsoever. I didn't know where anything was, I only knew some of his passwords because he had a habit of reusing them. I didn't have any kind of grasp on how to do most of it. Although, because as I mentioned, there had been so many deaths in the preceding years and even in the preceding month, I did have a horrible familiarity with some of the bureaucracy of death. But it didn't stop me from making mistakes around some of the digital stuff. I mean, one of the things, for example, is people encourage you to shut down accounts as fast as possible. And there's even something called Tell Us Once, where you inform a lot of government departments via one channel and things begin to be shut down. But what that actually does, particularly I suspect in a case like mine where it was both a very complex estate and an intestacy, is it actually shuts off the ways that you can find out about things. One of the worst mistakes I made was to let Andy's mobile phone be shut down. Because of course, the only way you can get into things like social media accounts and bank accounts and all sorts of things is to get a passcode sent to the phone. So, I immediately closed off an avenue, that would have been very useful. And it was, I mean, he died in February 2020, and I'm still nowhere near finding everything, tracking down everything, sorting out everything. I think I probably have at least another year of really significant work ahead of me. When I realised that Spotify had chosen to remove Neil Young's music, over doing anything to contain or shape the anti-vax messaging – I don't mean to shape the anti-vax messaging, I mean to confront the anti-vax messaging that was being spread by that podcast, the Joe Rogan podcast – I felt absolutely compelled to speak for Andy, because that's the predicament I've been left in. I have to speak for him because he can't speak for himself. And I knew where he would be on it. So, I wrote an open letter to Spotify, just saying that he would be opposing their decision, had he not been killed by COVID, and asking that they reconsider. But of course that then confronts you with the limits of your own power over the digital legacy. Because one of the most obvious things that people ask me is: “Why don't you then just take down all his stuff from Spotify?” Well, the answer is: I only own a small amount of it outright. But it also isn't the artist, but the label, that puts things on Spotify. The music industry is quite complex that way. And so, you know, that's why you find in many of the avenues that you find yourself going down, the digital world is very complicated and very obscure, and rights and recourse are very, very hard to find. I mean, how do you even find the people to talk to?

Jamie Bartlett

Well, we've got some of those people who might be able to advise a bit with us today. Catherine, thanks so much for sharing all that, we're going to come back to you in a second. Elaine, can I come to you? I know Catherine's experience is obviously quite unique in many ways, but in others, I imagine you've heard similar stories in your work. How common are these kinds of issues?

Elaine Kasket

Not only have I heard similar stories, but I remain convinced that as the citizens of the digital era start to die in greater numbers, which, of course, will inevitably happen – is one of the things that we try to impress upon companies that don't have good policies and procedures and resources in place – that 100% of account holders, 100% of users are going to die. And there's all sorts of implications for managing that on an individual level for the family, but also implications for the people who hold all this data. I feel like this is kind of an unstoppable train that's bearing down on us, these issues where we'll get to a kind of crisis point to it, if a lot of things don't change: about regulation, about law, about how we deal with these things technically, about how we deal with these things in terms of the contracts that we sign up to, or even the kind of internet that we've got currently, which is a heavily centralised internet, where a lot of power and a lot of data is controlled by these really large corporate stakeholders who have an inordinate amount of power over the data they've got on us. And we're also still in a situation where, historically, the dead didn't have that much of anything in the way of rights or a legal personality. But in this era through which we're living, we have these things where digital footprint is barely the tip of the iceberg, to mix my metaphors. It feels much more like a digital extension of ourselves. Not only do we have very limited power over other people's digital legacy, but we also have limited power over our own. We can plan, we can put things in place, we can try to set things up. But ultimately, people and these companies can do whatever they want with our data and continue to evolve our legacy or our supposed legacy after we're gone. Unfortunately, some of the difficult things that happen after somebody’s death, like Catherine was so emotively describing, like the trolling and everything like that, or some of the conspiracy theories or misapprehensions or stories about how somebody died, or what somebody was like – that's far beyond our control as well. And sometimes that happens from people who don't even originate as public figures, but people who just happen to come into people's attention in that way.

Jamie Bartlett

Can you give us a sense, Elaine – sorry to interrupt there – can you give us a sense of what the, sort of, digital afterlife is: the sorts of assets and data points and passwords that when you when you talk about a sort of digital afterlife, a sort of digital shadow, what things are part of that typically?

Elaine Kasket

Sometimes people have this misapprehension that if they stay off of Facebook and Twitter, and they don't do social media, and they're not really into all that kind of stuff, they won't really have a consequential digital footprint to speak of, or it won't really matter. And, of course, it's so much more extensive than that, than people realise. Even what Catherine is talking about – the phones – the relevance and the salience, ultimately, of having shut down the phone. I've spoken to somebody from my book, and I've spoken to lots of people that don't have access to the phone, because it's password protected, and double password protected, and all the things that protect our information in life. And, as a result, the family might not even know where bank accounts are held, because it's all conducted via apps on the phone. So everything about, you know, how we manage our actual assets, crypto or otherwise, all of our correspondence, our emails, our message threads – all of this might contain not just practical information about valuable assets, but also all sorts of sentimental things, stuff that is about the privacy of other people. We have information that we put out about ourselves on purpose on social media, for example, but then there's all sorts of information that is out there about us. Think about everything else that we might hold in digital form, the things that might have some value, like air miles, or like cryptocurrency – the list goes on and on and on, as well as this kind of unintentional autobiography that consists of things like the searches that we perform, that if we don't erase our search history or a list of websites visited, and our family gets hold of our devices after we're gone, and they're trying to see what we were thinking about or doing or trying to track down information – they might find all sorts of stuff out, stitching together stories and thinking: “Oh, was my person the person that I thought they were?”. So, there's all sorts of things. It's one of those things, like you start pulling a thread on a jumper and it just keeps going and unravelling and connecting to so many other things.

Jamie Bartlett

That's exactly what I was just thinking. It feels like once you start, you imagine one, sort of, digital asset that you might have online, and realise that if you passed away, no one would know about it or know what to do with it. And then you think of a second and a third, and then a 10th and then a 50th, and it seems to get bigger and bigger, which, Catherine, I think seems like it was your experience. Was there anything, Catherine, that you really didn't expect that you thought: “I never even gave this a thought and now I've got to try and sort this out somehow?”

Catherine Mayer

Well, there were many things like that. And the point about not even knowing what the accounts were, where they were, even if you can get into a phone, that it's incredibly hard to sort a lot of that out or figure things out. But also, you know, when you were talking about social media – social media is multiple things. It's now our photo albums, for example. It has a history of somebody on it, it has their personal conversations, it has so much else. And one of the things, you know, I mentioned the legal action, I ended up agreeing to hand over the Gang of Four name to three of the original band members. But, with that, also the social media, and they'd left the band long before social media existed. And although there was a logic to it, in it going with the name, and that they’re now touring as Gang of Four, it also meant that they took the photos, they took those conversations, you know. Andy had set up and manage those accounts for years, and so it's a very old thing. People talk about social media dismissively, as if it's this kind of one-dimensional thing, and it's so much more than that. Every morning, literally every morning, I get Facebook memories. The Facebook memories are my dead husband – thank you, Facebook. I want to remember him as and when I want to remember him.

Jamie Bartlett

Well, speaking of, sort of, the legal things and who owns what… David, are you able to – different companies have different policies – but are you able to shed any light on, sort of, who really owns some of this stuff, and what can you what can you do to get at it? I mean, I know it's not an easy question to answer, but where are we legally?

David Lyford-Tilley

Yes, well I can give some context. It is very, very tricky, as you say, because different platforms work on different bases. And, in particular, I think what we're kind of finding as a society is that a lot of the big – particularly the social media platforms – the users are mostly young and, for the most part, death is relatively uncommon for a lot of them. And so we're only really now starting to get to the point where these issues are really being thought about and considered. So, to take an example, if you were thinking about your Apple account, your iCloud, they only introduced the ability to add a legacy contact and have a, sort of, inbuilt formal way to pass on that content to somebody else, in November/December 2021. So, as we're recording, only a few months ago. And prior to that, it sort of involves having to make legal requests and do things in a very arcane and formal way. Even some of these platforms, and companies that have been around for a long time are still only now starting to grapple with these questions. And as far as assets, you know, we talk about digital assets as being similar to assets, we talk about, you know, buying music online as being similar to buying music in a store. But it's not the same in that, you know, my dad has a humongous CD collection that, you know, were he to pass, he could leave to me. But online music that I have purchased – that goes away when I die. That's not something I can pass on to somebody else. It's a different kind of licence. And so there's a lot of these kinds of purchases that actually won't maintain. But it's not just about the actual assets themselves, because there's also things like patterns. It might be that, you know, I mostly listen to streaming music, like a lot of people do these days, you know. I don't buy specific albums, but, you know, I do build up playlists of my favourite music. And that's the sort of thing that my loved ones would want to perhaps have access to after I die. And getting access to that is something that I think, you know, we don't see that there's much consistency across the board from now. There are, you know, we were talking earlier about finding data around yourself on the internet that you might not want to have there or which is inaccurate. And those of us amongst the living have the ability to correct that if you are in a country covered by the GDPR. You can ask people to remove data, ask companies to remove data or to correct it. But those rules only apply to living persons. And so it becomes very difficult to necessarily make corrections after somebody has passed on. And in particular, you might find that after you've passed, your data continues to be used for training algorithms long after you've passed. And that's, of course, happening even now, if you look at how algorithms are learning to do things, like, for example, assess credit – that's largely based on training data of things like who was offered mortgages in the past, and that includes many people who have long since passed. And in fact, many will have passed before they even had to consider what an algorithm was or would have known what an algorithm was.

Jamie Bartlett

This is an interesting thing. And when you think about it, it feels a little bit odd. I mean, imagine, if I passed away, I would not be happy with my data being used in some algorithm in 50 years’ time to give other people similar to me credit scores. Would my partner, whoever it would be, are they able to contact these companies and say: “I'm next of kin, I'm a power of attorney – I don't want that person's data to be used in training models, or basically to be held by the company and used in any way.”

David Lyford-Tilley

The answer is, most likely, that is possible. But the problem is the difficulty of getting it done. It's finding the people to speak to, it's convincing the people that you are who you say you are. And actually, of course, this actually touches on to other things that we were talking about. So, Catherine's very eloquently talking about the difficulty of identifying what all of the accounts and online presence of her husband were. And this is actually very true, I think even for anybody who's dealing with these situations that, you know, getting access to these things, a lot of services will open accounts to next of kin in these situations. But of course, for security reasons, they have to be incredibly careful with that, because they have to make sure that person really has passed away, and that you really are the next of kin, and that you're not just an online person who's trying to get an access to an account that's not being closely watched. And then, you know, it can't become an avenue for cyberattack. And that's why things like, for example, access to somebody’s phones, access to somebody's email account, can be such huge keys for being able to then unlock the rest of their digital presence, because those can be used to kind of access and reset so many other things. Although, with my cyber security hat on, I should say that will hopefully remind people that it's very important to have good security on your email accounts and on your phone, because if an attacker got access to them, they can do the exact same unfolding process and pick apart your life. So, it's something that's an incredibly tricky proposition. And in particular, as you've seen, so many organisations, so many corporations haven't really put into place the procedures and kind of processes for how this can really be handled, you know, in a way that's rigorous enough to make sure that it's not open to manipulation or abuse, but which is simple enough that you're not putting unnecessary burdens on people who are already having an incredibly difficult time.

Jamie Bartlett

There are so many different assets and types of assets. And it's not even just, as David said, it's not just about necessarily the songs that you spent money on, it could be the arrangement of those songs that means something to you. But we've got this huge, complicated digital shadow that we leave behind of all sorts of different types of assets. What are the sorts of things that we should be doing to make it at least easier for whoever has to deal with this after we're gone?

Elaine Kasket

I mean, I think that one of the things that I talked about in my book, which was a bit of a dilemma, what Catherine's referred to, what David's referring to, is this thing around passwords. And one of the things that I said in my book, I said: “Well think about the passwords for those things that people might actually need to settle the estate – how are they going to get that information?” Because we assume, I think, partly because we're in a physical stuff kind of mindset still, when we think about what we can pass on, I think we come to assume that our close loved ones, like next of kin or spouses or whatever, should be or will be able to access those things that they need to, because of who they are, even if they don't have the passwords. We just kind of assume that's going to be their right. And in the situation we're in now, that is usually not their right. If you have something password-protected up to the hilt – as we often need it to be these days to protect things during life – if it's password protected, whether it's a device or account, you should sort of assume that your dear ones are going to not be able to have access rather than assuming that they will. So, it's extremely important to assume that if there is something – where we are right now, rather than relying on third parties to do the right thing or relying on companies to grant access where you think they should – we shouldn't be relying on those things where we're at right now. You need to be able to find other ways or other workarounds to ensure that if there's something that people need to get ahold of, whether it's sentimental or practical, that you've organised that – ideally with a system that can be locally controlled rather than having to be routed through some company where, as you know, David was saying, they've got to verify your identity and your relationship with the deceased. They haven't got the resources for that. The nature of the T&Cs you signed in life might mean that no matter what they think, there's nothing they can do, those rights have already been signed away to that information. So, getting things in a system that you can locally control is good. But of course, this requires people to do things that they don't do often, even with our analogue stuff and with their traditional wills – they don't make a will, they don't make arrangements, they don't make plans for a really long time. And it's even more the case and even rarer for people to make these arrangements digitally.

Jamie Bartlett

So, practically speaking though, would that mean something like having some kind of safe, where you've literally got passwords written in a safe somewhere that someone could access? Or does it mean including certain things in your will about who should, you know – “I want Person X to have my bitcoin and the password is in the safe.”

Elaine Kasket

It's a workaround for now, but that’s like giving people passwords so that they can log in and manage things for themselves as though they were you – it's basically sort of drawing people into activity that's not quite legal. But we're at a point where everybody's doing these workarounds, because there's not a better system in place. We haven't achieved that yet. And interestingly, what you were saying about the iPhone, and what happened with iOS 15.3, where you can nominate a legacy contact, there, you can access, people can access, the kind of stuff where there might be sentimental or relational or emails or messages or photos on there. But it won't give you passwords, it won't give you the stuff that, sort of, traditionally is going to be useful for actual asset stuff and management stuff. It won't give you that, it excludes that, but then it gives you the other sentimental stuff. So, in a way, it helps that with regard to shutting down or sort of winding up an estate, it might not help as much as you need it to, but you might be able to get the photos and you might be able to get the stuff that means something to you emotionally. And so, passwords are tricky, because obviously it’s a security risk in life to have lists of passwords hanging around. And it's also the case in those instances where somebody who might be able to access those passwords isn't the executor. Sometimes people within families, you know, might not always do the right thing if they have access to those passwords. So, you're kind of assuming that the people who can get to those passwords – they’re going to be in safe hands. But there's a risk there. Always assess, never assume. If somebody needs something, you know, what kind of workaround offline or locally controlled can I manage? Even more important, we need to keep pushing for legislation and regulation and evolution on these fronts, because otherwise people just kind of keep on hacking their loved ones’ accounts to the extent they can, and often ending up in a really frustrating and hard-work situation like Catherine's.

Jamie Bartlett

Now, David, you were about to jump in on that.

David Lyford-Tilley

Yeah, I was. And I think it's very true that there's a lot of these institutional things that haven't really kept pace with the pace of change of technology. So, you know, so many places rely on things like mother's maiden name as a piece of identification, and that's information that is not difficult to find online with many, many people. If somebody is on Facebook, it's not difficult to track them down, to look through their friends, figure out perhaps who their mother is, look at who their friends are, figure out what their surnames are, you know, it's not that tricky to research. And this is the same thing I think we're thinking here. I wanted to actually touch on something – we'd spoken earlier about passwords – one of the things I think is really helpful for cyber security generally is to consider using a password manager, something that will, you know, let you pick any number of arbitrary complicated passwords, remember them all for you, and then only need one password for you to access. And that's not just good for your own cyber security, but if this is something you're thinking about for legacy planning, it's also a very straightforward way of passing on all of those contacts as, not just all those passwords, but a list of where you have accounts, of what your online identity picks up. And then on the subject of fraud and identity, it's also about pace. I mean, so much of these things are about, sadly, finding this information in the public domain and acting on it at a time where the people involved are emotionally vulnerable and are perhaps not fully aware of everything that should be happening, so that, you know, they can target them, but also about trying to get ahead of the institutional wave of information updates and try to impersonate people at places before those institutions know that the person has passed and that the access is fraudulent. And I think that's what the real difference between these frauds in the digital world that we now live in is, the speed that they can happen at. An example in a slightly different domain – I had a friend who’d mentioned on social media that they were having a tough time and we're running kind of running low on money, but really wanted to be able to treat themselves to something. I messaged them and just replied to their tweet saying: “Oh, what's your PayPal address? I'll send you some money, so you can, you know, have a pizza or something.” And, within a minute, they replied with an address. And thankfully PayPal stopped it. But what had happened was within a minute, a bot had found that tweet, copied their profile, copied their profile picture, registered a username that was nearly identical to theirs and replied to my tweet with their PayPal – all automated, almost straightaway.

Elaine Kasket

I have multiple examples of people who've been friend requested by their deceased spouse, by their dead parent, including profiles that had been memorialised, but especially profiles that had not been set by profile cloners, who then are trying their luck. So, this is an incredibly important thing to underscore and I'm so glad the conversation has gone in this direction, because I really believe that we need a whole new class of professional, like estate professional, who are equipped to assist people at pace with these kinds of issues. Because that alongside changes in law and regulation that are better equipped for a digital age, are something that we absolutely need going forwards. Because we can't continue to have a system of bereaved individuals and families muddling through.

Jamie Bartlett

We have to try to finish with some practical bits of advice for people. I can tell already this is a lot more complicated than even I'd understood when we started this discussion. I also look at this area, but it's even tougher than I'd imagined. So, let's just finish with a couple of bits of advice. There's a lot of broader things we need to do about activism, changing the law, a new class of professionals – but there's a few simple things maybe that might help make it easier for legacy planning. What would they be, David?

David Lyford-Tilley

So, I would say either a password manager or, even if it's just literally a physical notebook where you are writing down your information, having something simple that will help your next of kin know where you have accounts online and how to access them.

Jamie Bartlett

And, Elaine, you've seen a lot of different people try a lot of different things. What tends to be most needed, I suppose, that would help those going through this?

Elaine Kasket

Oh, I concur with David, absolutely. Even a list of accounts, places where accounts are, even without the passwords, is better than not having a list at all. There are various sorts of digital asset templates, the Digital Legacy Association has got a downloadable one. And the Digital Legacy Association also has a list of resources for the public, including all sorts of guides for different kinds of platforms and different kinds of devices. And so, in assisting people in moving swiftly, in terms of informing people figuring out what to do, those are useful. But they're also useful for planning purposes as well, so there's some planning stuff on there. And there's some ‘response to somebody having died’ stuff on there. Just bookmark it and know that it's there, and really consider anything and all to do with digital stuff when you're considering any estate planning. If you're going to look for a professional, find one who knows what the heck you're talking about when you mentioned the digital side of things.

Jamie Bartlett

And just so we know, Elaine, I assume that not many people are doing this at the moment, relative to the scale of the problem. Do you have any sense of like, how far behind are we, if you like, where we need to be?

Elaine Kasket

Incredibly far behind. And I think that probably platforms need to, at the point of signing up, need to have something that you stipulate about, you know, in terms of what happens to data. They need to have regular reminders if there are platforms that have legacy contacts, as Google and Facebook and now iPhone at a device level have. There need to be more regular prompts. I know that it brings the living into the mind frame of dying, maybe more often than people feel comfortable with, but needs must.

Catherine Mayer

Can I come in there, because that's really what I wanted to say. I agree with everything that's just been said. And I think that what this is also about, you know – expectant parents prepare kits for when their child's going to be born, yet not everybody has children. We're all going to die and we're all going to lose people, and so really this is about actually accepting those conversations about death and preparing for it in really basic ways that make it, you know, it can't take away the sting of loss, but it can make things a lot easier for the people left behind.

Jamie Bartlett

Wow. Okay, well, listen, thank you so much. We've got to finish there. Thank you David, Elaine, and especially Catherine for sharing such a heartbreaking story with us. We’re so grateful and it's so good to get your experience on that. Thank you all very much indeed for listening and see you next time.

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