If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot of information stored on Google’s various services – Gmail, Google+, Google Drive, etc. If you should die or become unable to access your accounts for a long time, what would happen to all of that information and data?
Until now, the answer was: it would either lie dormant forever – or at least as long as Google kept it – or the courts would decide. Even with a will that specifically states who should have access to your information with services like Google, it’s often a long, drawn-out legal battle to actually get that access.
That’s changed now, though, as Google has introduced Inactive Account Manager to allow users to designate what happens to their data and accounts if they don’t access them for a very long period (six months or more, which can be stipulated by the user). You can have your Google slate wiped clean (all accounts terminated) or designate a third party who can be sent the login information to gain access. This comes after Google sends your primary email and phone notices with plenty of warning, of course.
The settings can be accessed in your Google Account Settings under Inactive Account Manager. The setup is pretty straight forward. Select a time frame (3 months or longer, up to a year) for inactivity to be noticed by Google. If you choose six months, for example, then after six months have passed, Google will send you a notice to say that your accounts are pending inactivity closure (or whatever you’ve designated). If you do not respond within a couple of weeks, Google proceeds with the settings in your Inactive Account Manager.
All of your information stored on Google across all of its services, which are many – things like Picasa, Voice, YouTube and more – will be subject to what you’ve stipulated. You can have them all deleted forever or have them sent to a trusted third party (spouse, friend, relative, whatever). You can even stipulate what services are sent to that person and which are deleted or sent to another person.
It’s a good system and everyone should take advantage of it so their data doesn’t end up in legal limbo if something should happen.