Now more than ever, Americans are storing sensitive information and financial accounts completely online. Estate planning attorneys are scurrying to find the best way to deal with digital assets when creating estate plans for their clients. A recent article discusses how new Google developments will allow users to simply select account preferences to determine what will happen to their data stored in various Google applications after they die or become incapacitated.
Google has implemented an “Inactive Account Manager,” through which Google users are able to direct Google to either delete online data or pass it on to a specified person after the account has been dormant for a certain amount of time. Data passed on by Google users includes that stored in Google Drive, Gmail, YouTube, and Google+.
A new prompt on the Google account settings page asks users, “What should happen to your photos, emails and documents when you stop using your account?” Whether a person would like the data to be passed on or deleted, Google promises to “give you the option of deciding what happens to your data.” Users can also specify how long their account must be inactive before any action is taken. Moreover, a user will receive an email or text message indicating that the “timeout” period is about to end, before changing account settings.