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What Happens to Your Google Data After You Die?

April 11, 2013

By Cynthia Herbert :: 9:37 PM

What happens to your Google account after you die.In the digital age that we now live in, your online data and electronic assets are sometimes just as important – some might argue, more important – than your physical assets. What happens to these zeros and ones after you die? Who gets control? How do they get control? How do service providers know you’ve passed away?

Google is attempting to address some of these concerns with a service that it announced earlier today. With a new functionality added to Google accounts, users can set up plans for what happens to their Google services after they die. Users can have accounts and data deleted, send messages after they’ve passed on, or hand over data access to a family member or friend.

“We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife – in a way that protects your privacy and security – and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone,” the company said in a blog post about the new features.

The function, called Inactive Account Manager, works as follows. You can set your Google account to delete your data after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity on the account. Or, that period of inactivity can trigger a message for prearranged trusted contact, like a family member, to receive data from some or all of Google’s participating services. Right now, the Google services that work with Inactive Account Manager include Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube.

Before Google takes any action, it will attempt to make sure you are dead, by sending a warning text message to the cell phone on file, and also sending you an e-mail address giving you one last chance to stop the transfer or deletion.