Note: this is not legal advice.
I was going to write these tips at the end of my previous blog post, You Need to Make Your Will. But as I tend to have a lot to say, I decided to make a fresh blog post.
I am a very intuitive and visionary person and I had already thought about this recently, before my Dad died. Yes, I can be melancholic at times.
Your writing may or may not endure, if you die. I'll tell you why, as I've learned this in my journey of blogging then writing books. I've set things up, so my heirs inherit my copyrighted works, whether they want to try to make money from them or not.
Xanthe Wyse was originally my blogging name, when I started blogging back in 2008. Since changed to my legal name since 2015. Xanthe Wyse was the start of my having a voice. I used free platforms at first, then learned to build basic websites etc. I have deleted old blogs. The only other current blog that still exists is under my website Bipolar Courage (which I have culled some blog posts from and may cull more).
It's all forms of processing - grief, trauma, life experiences.
Now, it's widely recommended that when you have a blog as a 'brand', to purchase a domain name, use a paid platform if you want more features etc.
So I 'own' the domain names, bipolarcourage.com and soarpurpose.com. Now this 'ownership' is not permanent. It is for a time (depending on if the bill gets paid). I renew both the domain names plus the website builder I use for two years at a time. This means, that if I still have the blogs when I die, no one will pay the bill, unless transferred to an heir, if they wish to preserve it (that's my son and potential grandchildren).
My blogs are a form of pretty much raw processing. They are copyright (images and text) to me, although I have had blog posts stolen in the past (in fact, I saw one recently that was illegally copied by someone else, that I wrote over 10 years ago). My previous blogs have been deleted (mainly because I felt like I moved on plus I don't want to pay for multiple domain names etc). I don't think I will create any more blogs as Soar Purpose covers my intended life work.
Now, here's the thing, it's true that if you want your blog to rank better and if you want and easier link to give to people to come back, etc, then it is a good idea to have a domain name, so everything is under than name. If you are really serious about it, consider also trademarking (in New Zealand, Trademarks last 10 years at a time).
Yet, if you do these paid options, you also risk losing hundreds of hours of your work, if you die and there's no one to pay the bill to renew domain names and website platforms (even if they know where to). Although, I have since learned that domain names can be transferred to an heir, with a death certificate and verification of identity. That's if they want it, of course, to either preserve your work or to repurpose it.
So in a way, a 'free' option might have value. If you use a 'free' option of a drag and drop builder basic website like Weebly or Wix (easier to use than Wordpress), then it will have their branding on it on the footer and the domain name (which they give you for 'free'). Another 'free' option is Blogger but they don't have a website style option.
Anyway, if you wanted what you write to endure, even anonymously, consider that. Bear in mind though that if you are anonymous, there's nothing to stop others duplicating what you write and try to make money from it. I actually made around US $500 from my first go at blogging, some years back, when I started off in a writing community called HubPages. I have since deleted my blogs (which were frequently ripped off).
I don't actually make money blogging now as I choose not to have ads on my blogs/website.
Another thing to bear in mind, is that if you lose the password or die and have a 'free' blog, it will stay up (I know someone who forgot the password on their blog). They could probably try to get it deleted if went through a platform, if they prove who they are.
Now I am currently building a semianonymous YouTube account, as a tribute to my late Dad and my late Nana. Now, if I kick the bucket, from what I understand, that may go, if inactive for a time. Although I think currently YouTube is exempt from automatic deletion with inactivity. That tribute project is now on pause, after a family member who consented to it kicked up a stink. Even though my Dad ultimately consented.
Thing is though, my Dad recorded some very unique footage from 30 to 50 years ago. Those memories are more precious to me than assets like a house or vehicle. It was processing my way, with memories important to me, such as one of my earliest memories, climbing onto Dad's meticulously stacked woodpiles. It's quite upsetting when others try to control what others do, including how they process grief (I often process grief with creative expression). Extended family members were expressing appreciation for the project. I hadn't even got to Nana's videos yet.
My most significant social media is the YouTube accounts (I have three, currently). Yet, an heir may prefer to have them deleted rather than transferred. I don't really mind if my mental health blog etc gets deleted (Bipolar Courage), although I still get comments saying 'thank you'. There's nothing to stop Soar Purpose being repurposed by an heir. I've basically set it up, like a business brand, although it's more of a passionate hobby.
At this stage, I am keeping both 'brands' up and I have applied for trademarks for both, both pending. Soar Purpose is my focus now, as it's also the title of a book in progress. Soar Purpose is essentially a hub for my creative expression beyond advocacy. Book publishing, art etc.
A blog is a great platform to process but if you have anything you want to leave as a legacy, then I suggest publishing a very significant work. Self-publishing is essentially free these days and a legal deposit can be made (free in New Zealand to do so) to protect copyright your work (I think for 70 years after you go). This means that those in my will can benefit from any proceeds, although, again, I would need to leave instructions.
Make sure you also back up any precious things like any precious digital videos and photos. I am currently preparing a harddrive for my son, mainly of my Dad's home family videos. With a diary of who is in them (as I don't want that information public, even with consent, as I want it to be semianonymous publicly). Plus some family trees etc. I am not linking the project to my current blogs or other current stuff.
I just feel I need to put things in order and also to share some tips from what I've learned along the way. I was thinking of starting a 'free' blog to go with the channel but I don't think I will, as it's too many things to keep track of. I will edit a few minutes from Dad's videos most days as I share with the family. It's mainly there for the family who are getting old, for them to see aspects of my Dad, an adventurer and how much he loved his family. He was a private man, so most people never really knew, although he documented it.
It's not the house that I consider to be the most valuable from the assets Dad left. It's those treasured memories, that have his voice. My Dad lives on.
My family joked that Dad was the original vlogger in the family. He was, although what he captured was very genuine and was with splicing and joining old style film. Before the digital era. Not a performance for the camera, not posed with various backgrounds, no special lighting (like how most people do social media these days). Dad with his children and grandchildren. Before the days of fakeness of performing for social media.
And I know I have Dad's blessing as I asked him just after Easter. I am doing the project for extended family, scattered around the world (my family is international). My son will get a copy of all videos I edit. Purpose keeps me going and a voice is my purpose. Dad's voice on video, currently, as I process.
If I manage to complete the project to my satisfaction (some snippets on YouTube semianonymously - I've already started it), plus document who the key people are in Dad's full videos), I intend to gift the compass my Dad gave me when I was a child with what I have documented to my son for his 21st birthday next year. It will be a very unique gift.
The compass and the home videos are some of the most significant things to me. A house is just a house when it's not a home. I've lost my home (and house) before. At the end of the day, precious memories with loved ones matter more than any material possessions.
I don't have much stuff and I can tell you that after losing everything, I do know what matters most. Anyway, I will try not to blog much as it will likely go, if I do (not that I am intending to but I have to be practical, given I have very real health conditions).
I will invest the limited energy I have into the project for my son, so he has what I see as most important. He's like my Dad. My Dad documented something precious. No money can replace.
I didn't publish this blog post immediately, as I didn't have a picture for it prepared. I have since done some research and found some stuff out that might be helpful to do with social media accounts and copyrighted blogs and books. (Basically books and domain names can be passed onto heirs with copyright). Social media accounts are treated like bank accounts, so not anyone can log in to personal accounts. 'Brand' pages can be passed on though, apparently.
Digital accounts such as self-publishing books accounts can also be transferred to an heir with proof of death certificate and idenification. according to my research. I don't actually make much on my books (as I don't really market them and I've never bothered to try find an agent or go through a traditional publisher). Yet, I still spent a considerable amount of time (several years) and energy on my books and it would be nice for my heirs to enjoy them. They are as print-on-demand and ebook formats. My first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice went to over a dozen countries, which I consider to be an accomplishment for a self-published author.
I published my memoir, Bipolar Courage: Are You Sure You're Not Autistic? just days before Dad died. Marketing it hasn't been a priority yet. I can always come back to it but I feel it's more a priority right now to sort my minimal assets.
The executor can provide a death certificate to transfer accounts such as my self-publishing accounts to a new owner, apparently. Yet, it still depends whether they pay the bill (to renew domain names, website platform. There are no upfront fees for the self-publishing I go through). Also, an heir might choose to take self-published books down (even though the copyright will still apply, generally 70 years after the author's death).
The main issue I see with email and social media accounts is if they are compromised or no one can moderate for nasty comments. Of course, comments can be disabled if using a platform like YouTube. Or videos can be hidden, once someone else takes control of the account.
Some social media platforms have options for memoralising or deleting an account or allowing access to someone else selected in advance to certain aspects. As far as I am aware, a brand page can be inherited but not a personal page. The heir can choose to continue or delete as they wish.
I saw Google had a new policy to delete email accounts etc (except YouTube at this stage) for any accounts inactive for 2 years. There is also something called an 'inactive account manager' to select which parts of accounts can be accessed by someone who gets sent an email if there is no activity. I don't think I will use that though. Just specify my accounts with the info to go with my will.
Another option is to assign another person with certain permissions. I'm not keen on that though, having been burnt with Facebook (I was the founder of a page that grew huge, fast and I gave admin permissions who basically wrestled for the page).
Anyway, going forward, I think it's important to focus more on my books, as they have legal deposit for copyright protection. Also, they will sit there, whether anyone is getting paid or not, until transferred to an heir or deleted at request of an heir. Any accounts I get paid into are treated like bank accounts, so can't be transferred.
I am currently making a harddrive of some precious memories. I'd already started sorting my stuff, considering what legacy I want to leave behind. Even before Dad died, recently. One of the reasons I was motivated to do the video project, was because some family members are getting old or have died. And some of the grandchildren and all of the greatgranchildren never knew my Nana.
My Dad gave his blessing to it. But he's not here now. I'd already backed up some of home movie footage. He knew I was doing it. Family conflict sucks but I have paused the project. I can easily blur or remove anyone who doesn't want to be in it (it's kind of annoying though when someone gives consent then not only withdraws but acts like I can't do it). I've been very particular about consent, as that is important to me.
My next important task is to make a list important things for the executor of my will. I just feel the need to put my things into order, to cull any residual crap and to preserve the important memories. I will outline in a private document what is most important to me, and what specific digital assets & copyrights etc I have to accompany my will, which I signed today. I will give the additional information to the executor of my will plus it can also go in the safe with my solicitor.
Someone offered to buy an original painting from me, the Pheonix Kereru (the proposed cover of Soar Purpose). I had a think about it and I decided not to sell. I'll probably be one of those artists who never made much money when alive, even though my art and writing has been seen internationally.
I've already started sorting some of my physical possessions (I don't own much). Next big job will be going through my journals, to extract what I need to write Soar Purpose. Then burn what's left.
I'm really inspired by how my Dad left things in meticulous order. I'm not quite as meticulous as him but I appreciate that he captured some precious memories in his home videos. I will also sort my digital stuff, backing some of my precious captures of birds videos/photos to harddrive etc.
I will request with my will that my devices get 'wiped', so anything I want to pass on will be on a separate harddrive and/or shareable folders. It's all kind of like processing really, deleting anything I don't need or want and only keeping the 'treasures.'
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.