What do you want to happen to your website or blog when you die?

If you own a website or a blog it is important that you state what you would like to happen to it when you die. Many of us invest a lot of time and energy into our website and blogs. These may be for both business and personal reasons.

Digital Legacy Websites

Our website and blogs can become great resources for friends and family to visit once we have gone. They can also have a positive influence on our digital legacy and how we are remembered. If you do want your website to remain live it is important to make plans for it prior to death. This should include passing on admin access, billing information and change the ownership the website’s URL and hosting into the beneficiaries name. Ideally information your website and your wishes surrounding it’s future management, ownership etc would be documented in your will. This will help make your wishes known and easier to follow

Your options

  • You don’t mind what happens to your blog or website – Tell your next of kin that you do not mind what happens to it.
  • You would like your blog or website to be deleted – Tell your next of kin that you would like your blog and account to be deleted. Tell someone your login details in order for this to occur. If you are paying for hosting ensure that your next of kin knows your password.
  • You would like your blog or website to remain live – Tell your next of kin your wishes and provide them with all of the relevant login information. If you host your own website you will also need to pass your server and domain registrant information. Both your URL and the intellectual property created may be of value. If you feel this is the case you may want to state “the URL and all of the intellectual property of the content created belongs to the person (insert name) who I pass down the website / blog (insert URL) to.” You should state your wishes in your will and speak to the benefiter about updating the ownership of the website in advanced, ongoing server costs, URL renewals etc.
  • Consider donating your business website – You may want to consider donating your business to a relevant business or to a third party. This may be a family member or friend of yours who works within the same sector or provides similar services. If you do plan to carry this task out you may want to inform the benefiter and teach them how to manage the website from an administrative perspective (if you have both the time and knowledge to do so). You should state your wishes in your will and speak to the benefiter about updating the ownership of the website in advanced.
  • Sell your business website – If you plan to sell your business you may want to include the sale of the website in it. You may want to consider attaining legal advice regarding the ownership and passing on your business and the business website.

What to do with someone’s website after they have died (check list)

If no instructions are given about what to do with someones website once they die you may want to carryout the following:

  • Speak to other friends and family about what the deceased may have wanted.
  • Find out if the website / blog is self hosted (paid for) or if it is hosted for free.
  • If the website is self hosted you will need to ensure that the hosting is paid for in order for it to remain live.
  • You may want to create a backup of the deceased’s website or blog. If you do not have access the administrative panel or the server free tools like ‘Site Sucker’ will scrape the images and text from a website or blog and save it locally. Such tools will not ensure that the deceased’s website remains live but it will at least backup and preserve a copy of the text and images locally on a laptop or computer.
  • Ensure sure that the deceased’s URL (website address) and hosting is paid for. Often URLs need to be renewed every year or twos. Hosting is often paid for through direct debit payments every month.
  • If you do not know who the URL was registered through you may want to use the tool ‘WhoIs‘ to find out. Simply add the URL into the search box https://who.is. Once you have found out who the URL was purchased through you may want to contact them directly and ask for technical support.
  • Try and find out the username and password for the website. Once attained you, a friend or a family member may be able to update the website on the deceased’s behalf. Tasks may include sending out a blog post stating that the website author has died. Other tasks may include carrying out general administrative and design tasks.

What to do if a website by the deceased has been removed

If you are trying to access the website of the deceased and it no longer appears we recommend that you first use WhoIs‘ and contact the hosting provider. If the website or blog has been permanently removed you may want to view the ‘Internet Archive‘ to see if a copy was previously cached (logged) and if so you may be able to view an old version of it.

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