Have you ever wondered what happens after you die? No, we’re not talking about that pesky "Is there a heaven?" question, just the matter of how beloved family and friends will deal with disposing of your terrible wardrobe choices and finding a home for your sneezing cat. Something you may not have considered is your virtual existence. Who can you trust to delete your email accounts, your Twitter posts, your general presence in the blogosphere? Announced last week, Yahoo Japan is now offering a new service meant to address exactly these questions.
The appropriately named Yahoo Ending will send farewell messages to your loved ones after you die, while also deactivating and deleting every trace of your digital existence. For a monthly fee, the service will not only eliminate your email account once Yahoo has confirmed the death, but it will also delete documents, videos, and photos from online storage spaces — essentially scrub your personal data from the company's system. According to PC World, Yahoo Ending is hoping to expand in order to offer clients the possibility of deleting all personal data, including credit card, insurance, and other corporate information, left behind once you’ve made your final exit.
“Yahoo Japan’s job has been to solve social problems through the power of the Internet and to provide services from the cradle to the grave,” Megumi Nakashima, a spokeswoman for the company, told The Washington Post. “We had services for the cradle part but not the grave part.”
When a customer registers for the service, which starts at $1.80 a month, he or she receives a number to be shared with a trusted loved one who is expected to notify Yahoo Ending of the customer's death. Upon receiving a government-issued cremation permit, the service is triggered. Immediately, Yahoo Ending notifies family of the deceased customer’s funeral preferences, and then sends personal e-mails, written by the deceased, to friends and family — customers are allowed a maximum of 200 email contacts. Finally, the service goes to work deleting files like a mad accountant waiting for an IRS agent to arrive.
As a grace note, Yahoo Ending also launches a tribute site, where friends and family can leave condolences and messages. The online memorial can accommodate an invitation to the funeral as well as a bio of the deceased, photos, and videos. Already, Yahoo Ending has partnered with a funeral services company to offer real-world end-of-life assistance, such as will writing tutorials, grave location assistance, and funeral planning packages. The bare-bones bundle costs about $4,500, and consists of a funeral, embalming, and cremation, plus a wake for 30 people. Customers wishing to pay more can expect a catered funeral... and for an additional $1,500, a monk will arrive to perform last rites.