Making Plans on What I Want Done with My Possessions (Virtual and Real) in the Event of My Death

I have been thinking about this topic over the past few days, so I decided to write this blogpost to share some of my thoughts with you, my faithful blog readers.

Irrepressible landlady to the well-known 1920s Berlin historical roleplay sims, Jo Yardley, wrote about it on her blog back in 2017, in a blogpost titled If Someone Vanishes in Second Life: those people in Second Life who just suddenly disappear, leaving all their online acquaintances and friends to wonder what happened to them.

Are they seriously ill? Did they die? Or did they just decide to ghost everybody, abandon their avatar, and set up a new, anonymous one? This sort of thing can and does happen in a virtual world where most users are only known by their avatar name.

I have also reviewed the book titled Living and Dying in a Virtual World: Digital Kinships, Nostalgia, and Mourning in Second Life, by Dr. Margaret Gibson and Clarissa Carden (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), which deals with the subject of how SL residents choose to commemorate those avatars/people who have passed away.

In July of 2019, I wrote on this blog:.

According to Statistics Canada, the average life expectancy for Canadian men is 80 years. I am now 55, which means (if I am lucky) that I can expect another quarter-century of life ahead of me.

It’s time to be thinking ahead, planning for the future. I still need to draw up a will and a power of attorney, for example. I don’t have a lot of material possessions to leave to other people (my biggest purchases have been my computer and my car). But I do need to set something in place with my final wishes clearly spelled out for my next of kin to follow.

And I am still working on which Second Life avatars I will leave to other people in the event of my untimely death, via my will. You can read the entire saga herehereherehere, and here on my blog to see how this quest got started! I know it might sound really silly to some of you, but I consider them perfectly valid possessions, and it would please me greatly to know they will still be providing entertainment and enjoyment to others after I am gone. (If you’re interested in inheriting one of my avatars via my will, please contact me and we’ll talk. I still have a selection for you to choose from!) In fact, when the time comes, I may have some Sansar avatars to pass on to others as well (and I am assuming that Linden Lab will set up similar procedures for Sansar as they already have for Second Life). My lawyer is going to have a ball drawing up my last will and testament!

I added:

The important thing is to make plans for the future, but to be flexible and prepare for any eventuality. For example, if I were to be run over by a bus tomorrow, I currently haven’t left any sort of instructions to let people know my wishes concerning my blog and my show (which I would want to be archived for future historians to pore over). I also have an experience called Ryan’s Garden in Sansar, that I would like to be kept in perpetuity as my personal virtual memorial in the event of my passing. I haven’t given anybody else access rights to my blog to post a message in case something should happen to me. I need to set all these things up. Strawberry Singh (whom I admire greatly) wrote an excellent blogpost on these topics, which I recommend you read. You should be thinking about all these things too.

Well, instead of being run over by a bus, I might contract COVID-19 and die. Right now, the coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control here in Manitoba, especially here in the city of Winnipeg, and anything could happen over the next few months. As someone who is older (almost 57), significantly overweight, and who also has asthma, type II diabetes, and hypertension, I am at high risk of a severe, possibly even fatal, reaction if I were to become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. I take every precaution and follow all the experts’ guidance, but I still worry.

I regret that I have been unable to contact the lawyer whom my financial planner recommended to me, in order to draw up a proper will and a healthcare power of attorney. But we now live in perilous and uncertain times, so I have decided to spend the day today doing two things:

  1. Identifying the key people (both my real life and my social VR/virtual world community) who should have each other’s contact information if the unthinkable happens (real name, telephone number, email, etc.); and
  2. Drawing up a list of my personal wishes, for example, what I want to have done with the blog, my Second Life avatars and other virtual possessions such the Ryan’s Garden world in Sansar, and my real-world possessions as well, in the event of my untimely death. I will also need people to do various tasks, for example putting a message out on social media such as Twitter, and on each of the almost 100 social VR/virtual world Discord community servers I belong to, in order to let the people there know that I’m gone.
My main Second Life avatar, Vanity Fair. I have already contacted Strawberry Singh (now known as Strawberry Linden) and she has agreed to let me bequeath Vanity to her in the unlikely event that anything should happen to me. I take great pleasure in the thought that Vanity Fair will live on after I am gone, and Strawberry will no doubt find it useful to have another avatar available to her as she creates top-notch marketing content for Linden Lab.

I think that doing this will give me some ease of mind, knowing that, in the absence of a will, a number of people will still know what I want to happen to my stuff (both virtual and real) if I should die. In one of my blogposts about my cancer scare two years ago, I wrote:

I…had a nice long chat with my psychiatrist today, and she made me realize that what I am doing here is simply trying to assert some control in a situation where I am not in control. This is apparently a very normal, human response to a situation like a health crisis.

And that is exactly what I am doing here: trying to assert some control in a situation where I am not in control. Obviously, I will not be blogging all the details of what I decide here, but after I have done this, I will tell you what I have decided to do about my blog in the case of my death. All the rest will be shared only with those key people I have identified in Step 1 above.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although I suffer from a chronic form of clinical depression, I am not suicidal. I have every intention of living that extra quarter-century to age 80, and beyond! I have to live to witness and document what happens next in the ever-evolving metaverse! But I do need to get some practical matters settled. I hope you understand. Please don’t worry about me. I am taking good care of myself and coping with the current situation as best I can.

As always, stay healthy, stay sane, and stay strong in these trying times.

A Second Update: Leaving My Second Life Avatars to Other People Via My Will

Angel Michaela 3 30 Mar 2018
Prayerful Vigil: one of my avatars who needs a good home after I am gone

This week, I have been scheduling in-world meetings with various people in Second Life who had expressed an interest in inheriting one of my SL avatars. (If you want more background on why I am doing this, you can read all about it herehere, here and here.)

One thing that I have discovered, is that most people are not really that interested in taking over someone else’s avatar after the original owner has passed away. The idea probably creeps some people out. It might also be that people are shying away from having to provide a real-life name and means of contact to me and my lawyer (when I select one to draw up my last will and testament).

I do want to make it clear that I will no longer be publishing who gets what avatar on this blog. SaveMe Oh, who evidently marches to the beat of her own drummer, has decided to publish my email to her on her own blog, telling her that she can inherit my drag queen/clown avatar, Velcro Zipper, even though I specifically asked her not to. So be it. She has a habit of posting transcripts of other people’s conversations with her to her blog, so I probably should not be surprised. But she still gets one of my avatars to add to her merry band of artistic warriors and shit disturbers. Maybe the operators of the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) sims might want to add “Velcro Zipper” to their ban lists as a precaution, even though she will not be getting Velcro for many, many years!

But from here on in, it’s nobody’s business who gets which of my avatars in my will. So, if that was a consideration that was originally holding you back from offering to take one, please be reassured. I am not SaveMe Oh, and I will not publish transcripts of our conversations, or our emails/IMs, without your explicit permission!

Here’s my list of avatars. Many are still looking for good homes. I’m actually somewhat surprised that nobody has asked about my celebrity look-alike avatars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, or Cher:

If you are interested in inheriting one of these Second Life avatars, please contact me via email at ryanschultz [at] Gmail [dot] com (or via the Contact page on this blog). You can also approach me and talk to me in-world in Second Life, Sansar or another virtual world, or talk to me on one of the many community forums or Discord channels for the various virtual worlds of which I am a part (including my own Discord).

This has been a very interesting experience for me! I have already had some fascinating in-depth conversations with people this week, and I look forward to many more in the coming weeks and months! As I have said before, I do plan on living a long and healthy life, and playing Second Life well into my 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, but you never know what can happen, and it always pays to be prepared for any eventuality. And, as I have said before, It would give me great pleasure to know that the avatars I lovingly created and outfitted will live on after my death. It’s a kind of digital immortality, and I honestly don’t think that it’s creepy at all.

Have a plan in place so your friends in virtual worlds will know what happened to you if you suddenly disappear off the grid! And think about what you want done with your digital assets if you should die. How will you choose to have things wrapped up?

Cancer, Death, and Virtual Worlds

Photo by Marcel Scholte on Unsplash

Yesterday, I found out that I might have bladder cancer.

I’m going to have surgery on October 3rd. The voluminous paperwork I filled out yesterday said it was for a “Transurethral Resection—Bladder Tumor”. I underwent all the standard pre-operation routines: EKG, chest X-ray, bloodwork. (Yes, I had to pee into a little cup.) The urologist who is operating on me will be doing a biopsy to see if I indeed have bladder cancer. (Thank God for Canada’s universal healthcare system.)

This is all happening so fast that it is making my head spin.

And, well, obviously, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my own mortality.

I actually don’t have a lot of material possessions. My biggest purchases in life have been my computer and my car. And I don’t have a will yet; I’ve been putting it off, and putting it off, and putting it off. Nobody wants to think about death and dying. But now it’s time to start to think about who I want to leave my possessions to.

Ironically, over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading the book Living and Dying in a Virtual World. Reading about how people deal with the death of someone they knew from Second Life. And, as Strawberry Singh herself wrote very recently:

…I was recently reading a post on about a New Book on Second Life: Living and Dying in a Virtual World by Dr Margaret Gibson and Clarissa Carden. The book takes readers into stories of love, loss, grief and mourning and reveals the emotional attachments and digital kinships of the virtual 3D social world of Second Life. If you are interested in reading it, it’s available on Amazon (this is an Amazon affiliate link).

Reading about this book got me thinking about how often I’ve heard it happen that people create friendships and relationships in Second Life (and other virtual worlds) and then one day one of the friends just disappears. They never login again and their friends are left wondering what happened to them. People usually start to assume the worst and think that they’ve passed on, and sometimes that is the case, but regardless, it’s always heartbreaking.

Recently I’ve been very busy in the real world so my blog posts have been a bit sparse. If I don’t blog for a week or so, a number of you reach out and check up on me, to make sure I’m okay. It’s very sweet and actually pushes me harder to find time to login and blog again. Juggling both lives can be hard for a lot of people but I never want to give the impression that I’ve suddenly left SL without a word or something worse has happened to me in the real world.

I thought I would take this opportunity to make you guys a promise, a birthday promise. I promise that if I ever plan to take extended time away from Second Life, for whatever reason, I will always do a blog post and let you guys know. I’ve already been doing this, when I go on vacation or if I have a family emergency come up. If you notice that I have disappeared for a while, maybe a week or two or maybe even three or more and you haven’t heard a word from me, it’s most probably because real life has me so incredibly busy that I just haven’t had a chance to login. I will definitely be back, as soon as I get the chance, I will be back! Now the promise: if something were to happen to me in the real world where I will never be able to return, I have asked both my husband and my brother to let you guys know, either through my two best friends in Second Life (Zaara Kohime and Winter Jefferson) and/or this blog. My husband and brother have all of my passwords and Winter also has access to this blog and can write posts here.

So, like Strawberry, I am making you the same promise: I will not just disappear from Second Life one day without letting everybody know what happened to me. I will set something up, and I will do the same thing for all the other virtual worlds where I am a frequent visitor. I don’t have details yet, but when I do, I will post them here on my blog.

Earlier this year, and quite obviously, not knowing that all this was going to happen to me, I wrote a blogpost about how I want to leave my Second Life avatars to other people when I die:

Here is a photo mosaic of all the avatars I had created during my first five years in Second Life. (I created this photo mosaic back in 2012, as a sort of ceremonial way to wean myself off SL and move on. Of course, that didn’t really happen! I took a long break and came back in 2016.) Many, if not most, of these avatars I have since deleted, but I have kept the rest of them.


I understand that it is currently against the Linden Lab Terms of Service (TOS) to give your SL avatar to another person. I believe that we need to make an exception. I would take great pleasure from knowing that some of my Second Life avatars, on which I lovingly spent so much time and money, would live on after I die. It would be a kind of digital immortality.

Of course, I understand that Linden Lab does not want avatar accounts to become a commodity, something that is bought and sold on the marketplace. I was surprised to find that there are even some places online where people actually sell their old avatar accounts, especially those legacy accounts created with a proper first name and last name; this might even be one of the reasons why LL is bringing back avatar last names.

I would never want to sell one of my avatars; I find the very idea repugnant. But it would give me great pleasure to be able to freely give one of my avatars as a gift or a legacy to a friend or family member. And I want Linden Lab to explicitly allow this.

Second Life is soon turning 15 years old. I’m certain that this sort of thing has happened in the past. And I’m quite certain that some of the people driving an avatar in SL are not the original creators. As more of SL’s original userbase starts to die off, this will be a perfectly natural thing for some avid SL users to want to do.

And no, I don’t think it’s creepy at all. The people to whom I would leave my avatars would be free to do as they please with them, redesign them, or give them on in turn.

And I found out that you can, indeed, leave your SL avatars to other people when you die. Linden Lab actually has a process and procedures in place, to deal with just that possibility.

Which leads me to my next point.

Simply put, I need to figure out who gets what avatars when I die. Yes, avatars. Plural.

My (at times, obsessive) hobby over the past eleven years has been to create and design many Second Life avatars, most of whom have interesting legacy names; that is, a proper first name and last name, like my clown/drag queen avatar, Velcro Zipper:

Velcro Zipper at Franks 3 APr 2018_001

You see, she’s both a clown, and a drag queen. (Both involve wigs, and a lot of makeup!) Here’s a picture of one of my clown looks for the same avatar:

Velcro Zipper 25 Sept 2018.png

Here’s another, more classic clown look:

Velcro Zipper 3 26 Sept 2018.jpg

Over the last decade, I have built up a whole inventory of clown-wear for this avatar (mostly freebies I have picked up here and there), and recently, I have expanded it to include drag queen accessories like big hair and ballgowns (again, mostly freebies).

(Yes, I know what some of you reading this are gonna say, I know, it’s a strange hobby. Some people golf. Others play solitaire. I happen to create Second Life avatars. What’s your point? I happen to be damn good at it! And it has given countless me hours of enjoyment, and a boundless outlet for expressing my creativity. So don’t judge me.)

I have spent a great deal of time, money, and energy designing my Second Life avatars, and God dammit, they are all going to live on, and provide enjoyment to others, long after I am gone!!! I am not—repeat, *NOT*— going to let all my hard work and creativity go to waste!!!

I also have to figure out who is getting my stuff in all the other virtual worlds of which I am a part: Sansar, High Fidelity, etc. This means that I am going to have to initiate discussions with the people running the various metaverse companies, many of whom have probably never even considered the issue before: what do you do when you want to leave your avatars and other virtual world possessions to other people when you die?

Well, I have decided that It’s high time to start having those discussions. Avatars are property, pretty much the same as any real-world property. (My lawyer is going to have an absolute field day drawing up my last will and testament!)

Stay tuned for more details.

And please, don’t worry about me; I am going to be fine, no matter what happens. And I am not depressed. I just need to take care of things, work out all the details.

I may also need to suspend blogging, and be absent from the various virtual worlds, for a period of time. I do hope that you all understand.

As it turns out, like the hobbit, I’m off on an unexpected journey. Wish me well. And if you believe in God, please say a prayer for me. I’m going to need all the help I can get.