What would happen if you die? A million dollars turn to dust

ReaperI am generally not a morbid person, I tend to look forward and keep a cheery disposition, optimistic and all. My mother in law is completely the opposite, she dwells on death like the grim reaper and enjoys visiting the odd cemetery (ah.. you have a mother in law like that too?). So it takes me out of my normal comfort zone to consider the prospect of what would happen if I died.

I, like most, have a mortgage and it is insured against my death, I also have life insurance that would bring a bit of cash to my surviving family in a lump sum and I have a will, so I’m set right?

WRONG! A number of years ago I took the path of working online for myself as a one man band, I doubt the real world is ready for the complications I could leave behind if I died suddenly and if you run websites take a minute and consider what would happen if you died, whether you have a family to look after or not, would you really be happy to see everything you have achieved to date STOP, EXPIRE and DIE also?

Without any preemptive action on my part I can list a few things that would likely happen for me

  • My generous mailbox would eventually fill with spam and then bounce mail within a month
  • My MS SQL database transaction logs would build up and without intervention could cripple a major part of my sites (& earnings) within a week (note to self must get that automated)
  • My electronic sales would not be completed and within 7-14 days I would get email enquiries about them (that would soon bounce) and chargebacks putting the whole merchant account in danger, any freeze on my business account could jeopardise my hosting arrangements & therefore domain renewals throwing everything into a spiral of deletion.

My surviving wife and son would get money for a few months but I am quite sure the wheels would come off and within 6 months everything I have ever achieved would stop working and the money would shrink or stop. It would then only be a matter of time until all the domains I own (and I own a lot) would eventually expire and my presence online would probably disappear without so much as a peep and not that many people would notice.

If I had to walk away from the internet right now and sell everything I owned I would ask for something in the region of 1 million dollars ~ £500,000 UK sterling which I feel would be a fair valuation from what I have done so far and currently earn. So in effect the way I see it if I die without plans in place I could be throwing a good $1 million dollars into the ether, that would disappear with no gain apart from those perhaps that caught my eventual dropping domains.

So, it is a sobering thought but I must address this and so must many of you, so what can you do? I am going to make an action plan that is very simple but a lot.

I have at least 10 password in my head for various sites/ no one could ever guess or work out and I need that put down physically somewhere so I would/ WILL buy 2 USB pen drives and make a list of all major websites I need to frequent with user-names & passwords on it that will enable the general maintenance of my business ventures.

I will detail hosting, domain, affiliate, adsense & merchant account details with login details and payment details.

I will take 1-2 days to train up my wife on the very basics of what I do to service my sites (you could choose anyone for this part) doesn’t matter how I got here at the end of the day I could train someone to care take everything within a day to keep everything ticking over. I will make a list of the very basic actions needed.

Online help
I will ask or find at least 1 person who I trust online whether they would be prepared to help my spouse in the event of my death for a cut of revenue in return for their knowledge & help, I am sure my wife would take 70% of something rather than 100% of nothing. (Al incoming email 🙂 )

I will leave one pen drive with my wife in a safe place and one with my solicitor with instructions and update my will, how many of you have a will for your online projects & domains?

Money down the toiletNot a great topic and one I tend to shy away from usually but I have a fairly valuable estate online as well as being potentially valuable with domain investments that could disappear if I died, nobody would say “hey, now Scott’s gone this 1 million dollar empire needs to go to someone” so to make sure I can sleep at night with a clear conscience I am going to tackle this topic shortly, I am sure you don’t get asked this very often, but in your quest to generate an income online you should ask yourself what would happen if you die?

Thankfully I am an online nobody, some bloggers like Darren, Paula, Shona & Yaro are brands who could lose most to all income without their actual presence, while others like JeremyJohn and Rand are more the face of a larger business behind them, I could disappear as long as someone was trained up and the income would carry on as is, now I’m off to take my vitamins 😉 !

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. Interesting perspective, but its not just the online business that gets affect in case the man incharge dies. Offline ventures are also affected.

    • True, but on offline business would be more likely to be noticed & dealt with, ie a business or office would fall into the persons estate and be inherited, whereas all my domains & sites would be more in danger of just disappearing and expiring as I have too much info that’s just in my head.

  2. A friend of mine was making his living online, went across to the shops one afternoon to get something for dinner and collapsed from a rare varient of the flu.

    Fortunately his wife had his passwords and I managed to keep his sites online for almost 12 months before they became uneconomical to continue.

  3. I have the same thought lurking at the back of my head. However I tend not to worry about them.

    I guess that is a good way of making sure it all goes well. However you can make it all automated!!

  4. Great food for thought, Scott.

    Darren actually blogged about blog insurance a while back.

    I think he bought something in the event of his death, since blogging is his family’s primary income.

    Guess I should write some stuff down, heh?

    And I’m more than honored that you called me a brand.

    Happy Wednesday,

  5. I reckon you been listening to too much emo Scott.
    I have an excel spreadsheet with all the passwords accounts; it even confuses me why I’ve managed to have so many different usernames and passwords.

  6. You have brought up some great points. I have considered what would happen to my Ebay store but I never thought about the blogs, domains and affialate stuff.

    Thanks for the prod.

  7. A couple of months ago I started the process of preparing this sort of information. The passwords all went into KeePass, and other notes went into a text file. The training aspect is more problematical, since my wife isn’t interested. The idea of an online caretaker has a lot of potential.

  8. The great thing about Self Made Minds is all the posts on topics that I’ve never read about on any other website. Most web blogs re-hash the same information. So that, if I read about SEO on one website, the next five SEO websites usually have the same information. Keep up the great posts, guys!

  9. Great post Scott, and well put.

    This is definately something i should add to my TODO list, although my ventures certainly are’nt worth anywhere near your estimate!

  10. Woohoo, I’m a brand! That means I must be ready to create my own perfume line. “Rich Minx – the scent of money”.

    You’re right, if I went to the great Blogosphere in the sky my blogs would not hum along nicely without me. Mental note: must clone self.

    I’m not sure my family would miss the $3 a day though 🙂

  11. I don’t trust USB pen drives enough to store info like that on them. I’ve had 3 become useless so far, losing about 1.5gb of data, just from swapping them to machines with dodgy USB ports.

    The death thing does need thinking about. For me, I host lots of web sites for other people so if I popped my cloggs there would be other peoples businesses with problems too.

    • I have only ever used a couple but that surprises me Garry, I had always just presumed they were reliable, more so than the ‘ol floppy disks we used to use anyway 🙂

      • Maybe mine were just cheap ones, but it’s put me off relying on them for saving critical data. Handy for transferring files though.

  12. This thought came to me a couple of months ago! My sites would completely fall to ruin. Hopefully my family are smart enough to search for sites I frequent and automatically login as me!

    Oh wait, my PC is password protected!

  13. Not to push my own product – oh wait -I will… we just launched a solution for this problem. AxcessPoints.com allows you to securely store your critical information and grant permission based access to those you choose. My mom is using it and has all of her medical information, insurance, info, all of her financial stuff.. and key contacts so if anything happens I can get to her information. And there are reminders to help her remember to update her information. One last feature – the site has a tool that uses your household members including animals to calculate what should be in your emergency kit, and helps you track it. Try it free for 30 days – and let me know what you think!

    • Good idea for a site, I just have reservations about storing really crucial data online. What if your web servers goes down, what if the company goes under ( just continuing the pessimistic theme of this thread 🙂 )

      This is the problem with the digital age… what source of storage can you really trust for digital information for not only reliability but security too. No web server is 100% secure, no digital data storage is 100% reliable.

      I think not dying is the only answer!

  14. Yeah…

    If I will die, my last words will be… My passwords 😉

  15. Interesting Post 🙂 Your right if I croak it all i have done “not a lot” will get lost i think for myself I would setup some kind of pre prepared sale cause none of my family could do any of this unfortunatly.

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