LEAVING YOUR FAMILY photos to your children, grandchildren, and extended clan used to be easy—you went and died, and they would find the albums gathering dust in your attic or tucked away in a drawer. Sure, there were a lot of terrible holiday snapshots to sort through, but there were always some treasured photos to be kept in a wallet, framed beside a bed, or pinned to a dart board.
Now though, things are trickier. Most people’s photos are kept on their smartphones, locked away behind passwords and encryption. (There are typically also tens of thousands of them.) If in two years you were to find your departed mother’s smartphone in a drawer, what are the odds you’d remember her iCloud password?
Things aren’t a lot better with photos on social media. Services like Facebook and Instagram compress the hell out of your high-quality uploads. They appear fine on a screen, but print them out to keep on your desk and they look a mess. It’s kind of ridiculous that your smartphone captures significantly higher-quality images than a point-and-shoot from the ’80s, but if you try to print a photo you shared to Instagram, you’d be better off with a daguerreotype. (Also, there’s no guarantee Facebook will be a going concern in 20 years’ time. RIP MySpace. RIP Bebo.)
So, if you want to make sure your children can have their childhood photos after you pass, it’s something you need to think about now.
The Cop Out: Leave Your Entire Digital Life Behind
Enough people have been locked out of a dead parents’ device that Apple and Google have now made it possible for you to grant posthumous access.