Do You Have A Genealogy Succession Plan? Part 1 – Genealogy Rewind – Getting My Poop In A Group

I’m sure most of you reading along are genealogists or genetic genealogists, scrapbookers or maybe you’re someone who hasn’t quite decided if they want to get involved in this addiction;  err I mean hobby. But no matter if you’ve been doing this for a long time or just starting out, it’s important to have a plan as to who is going to get your research, scrapbooks or access to your DNA kits when you are gone.

So today I want to speak about who’s getting your DNA data. As I continue to get my poop in a group one of the things that I need to do is update my beneficiary information on some of my DNA kits. If you didn’t know you could do that then please follow along.

Family Tree DNA

For the kits that I have on Family Tree DNA, the process is quite simple and I only have to update the newest additions. I guess it would be a good idea to just make this a part of my startup process so I don’t have to do it over.

Here are the steps to add a beneficiary;

  1. Once you log into your account up in the right-hand corner you will see your photo (if you’ve loaded it) and kit number.
  2. When you click that button you will see; my profile, privacy settings, account settings and sign out. Click account settings
  3. At account settings, you will see a bar with six choices; including beneficiary settings. Click on beneficiary settings but later take a moment to see what the other tabs do.
  4. Once you’re at beneficiary settings all you have to do is fill out the name, phone number and email of the person you’d like to be the beneficiary of the kit.  Then save and now you’re done.
  5. Once completed you have the choice to create a printable form.  For my purposes, I change the name on the form to read; I Ellen Thompson-Jennings (otherwise it will be whatever name you’ve named the kit) then I put my address and the beneficiary’s information and it will automatically put the kit #.
  6. I then do a control P (print) and print the document and have it signed by myself and a witness and then I forward to the beneficiary for their records.

In most cases, I’m making the person whom I tested the beneficiary or whoever they have told me to make.


If you’ve completed your testing on Ancestry awhile ago then the process is a bit trickier. With the changes to kits activations on Ancestry, it will depend on when you set up the kit and how it was set up. In my case, all my kits were purchased and activated before the change.  (With the new process the person doing the kit is the owner and they have to make me a collaborator. But currently, all my kits are set up (through the old system) no matter who the person tested was that I am set as the manager and if there is someone who I’d like to look at the results (typically the testee) then I’ve made them a collaborator. It’s important to read and understand the new access roles member have. See the list below.

In the case of many of the kits that I’m responsible for,  the testee has no interest in doing anything except having a look from time to time at the results of the kit. So I’m ok leaving myself as the manager and the testee as the collaborator or viewer.  But I will tell you that husband and my stepson know my passwords so they could easily log into my account and change the roles should something happen to me. They also know who to contact regarding the changes necessary.

But for those of you that have recently purchased or are thinking about purchasing a kit for someone else you will have to decide at that time of purchase who will be responsible as the manager or collaborator. If you are testing an elderly person who only wants to help you with your quest, I would suggest that you help them set up the account and that you discuss the implication of making you the manager of their account. It’s probably a good idea to have them sign a document that you and they have discussed what having DNA done involves and what information might be found and document who they want to have their DNA data linked to should they pass away. This can be done at the time of setting up or at a later date.

I’ve had several people say to me; my mom doesn’t have email or my dad wouldn’t know how to do all this. So I would suggest that you get together with them and you can set up their email for them. You only need to do this to activate the kit and to invite yourself as the manager. Once you do that you can then go back to the setting on their kit and change the settings so that the email will no longer receive alerts. If you might look after more than one kit then you may want to keep a list of the emails you create and the password. I did this by setting up a contact within my outlook called DNA and then in the notes, I have every kit # that I manage and need to keep the info for, in the notes section.

If the testee lives somewhere else then I would suggest that you have the kit sent to you and then you go through the process of doing all the computer work (ie. the email set up, the activation of the kit and who they’d like to have linked with the account) and then send off the kit to them to complete the test. As I mentioned before,  you’ll want to have discussed all this with the testee beforehand.


23andMe offers you the ability to set up separate accounts or one joint family account. If you opt for a family account that family account will have one email and one password.  So this means that if you are setting up an account for yourself or someone else you can also provide yours or their designated beneficiary access by giving them the email and password.

If you choose to place all family members in a single account: (information from the 23andMe website)

  • You will all share one email address and one password to log in.
  • Only one person can be logged into the shared account at any given time.
  • Access to all of each person’s genetic data would be available to everyone who shares the account. (so keep this in mind if you don’t want others to see your health information)
  • Each person will have a unique profile and each profile would have its own unique set of surveys.

This information can be included in your will (which I will address in upcoming weeks).


MyHeritage allows you to purchase and set up another family member’s DNA kit.  All you have to do is go to the activation page and enter the kit # and other required information. Their set up process has become even easier if you use their app to register as you only need to scan the barcode on the kit to activate it.

As for sharing, g you can share your ethnicity with others via social media but as far as beneficiaries, MyHeritage doesn’t appear have anything set up so beneficiaries so you would have to ensure that your account and passwords are known by family members or are a part of your will.


As I mentioned before I believe it’s important to keep a list of the kits that you are responsible for with information as to how they can be accessed and where possible to give beneficiary information on that site. But if you can’t add to the site you want to make sure that someone knows this information so all the DNA access isn’t lost.

It’s not that your DNA won’t still be on the site it’s more about having access because when you look at DNA from that view it’s much different from what you can see as an in common with the match.

Below are links to the DNA companies I’ve written about in the above post. (Canada) U.S.

Family Tree DNA

23andMe International



  1. These are my personal opinions and often I confer with professional people to get advice but it’s always a good idea to confer with your own lawyer
  2. Things change and I try to keep my older blogs updated. If a blog has been updated with new information that date will be identified.
  3. The above blog contains affiliate links that I received a small remuneration for this does not increase the cost of any purchased by you but the money I receive I use this money to support The DNA Angel Project and I donate a portion of what I receive to the Alzheimer’s Society.


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