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Digital will lets people leave behind more than just their worldly possessions

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Chris Vreeland/Flickr CC
It’s not too surprising that, in an industry where 21-year-olds are already on their second or third startup and billionaires are minted at 25, that a lot of people don’t spend too long thinking about death.

That’s starting to change, however — particularly as questions surface about who has access to social media accounts and mobile devices after a person has passed away.

Enter LegalZoom, the podcast-sponsoring company that offers algorithmic legal documentation services. Created by LegalZoom’s U.K. subsidiary, “Legacy” is a forthcoming service that wants to reinvent the will by making it about not just worldly possessions, but much more.

“We wanted to take a step back and really look at what making a will means to people,” LegalZoom’s U.K. chief executive Craig Holt told Digital Trends. “People making a will are looking for a way to protect and care for their loved ones after they have passed away. There’s a lot more to that than just passing on your finances and estate. That insight made us expand what would normally be covered by the idea of a will, and to allow people not just to leave behind money but also experiences, memories, and a legacy.”

The most morbid high-level pitch you could give for Legacy is that it’s a social network for dead people, in the sense that the really significant interactions take place after the profiled user is no longer in the land of the living.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Like a journal app, it allows users to annotate videos and photos — but then to select who — and, crucially, when — these will be passed on to family or friends.

That might mean not just making a lifetime scrapbook of materials available to your son or daughter after you’re gone, but creating “time capsule” messages that will only appear to them on a significant date, like a 21st birthday or a wedding.

Over time, the service may expand to cover other document types as well.

Legacy is also taking steps to improve the will-making process in other ways. This includes a graphical user interface, which makes it easy to divide your possessions up, and will then translate the visual interface back into a legally worded document that will hold up in court.

Finally, unlike other one-and-done wills that are made and then never thought of again, Legacy acts as a “living, breathing” document users can amend as though they were Google Docs documents.

If anything changes in your life situation, altering your will to match is easy as changing your relationship status on Facebook.

The service is set to launch as an iOS and Android app in the U.K. in the coming weeks, with a U.S. launch hopefully happening in the not-too-distant future.

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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