Who will manage your Google account?
Do you use Gmail? Have you ever looked up directions on Maps? Have you ever typed a question into the Google search bar desperately looking for answers? Chances are, you have answered yes to the questions above, and it is likely that Google has a lot of information about you stored on their end. Beyond our search history, this has us wondering, what happens to your Google accounts in the event of your death?
Google has preplanning options. You can decide what you would like to happen to your accounts ahead of time! You have the discretion to choose between 1) Give account control to your spouse or friend, 2) Have everything automatically delete after your death, or 3) If your account has been inactive for a certain amount of time it can delete itself.
Let us look at the choices for your standard free Google account. To find these options, you will want to login to your google account and locate the “Data and Personalization” page in your settings. Once on this page you will scroll until you find the “Download, delete or make a plan for your data” section. You can then select “Make a plan for your account,” and click start. From here, you can fully customize your plans.
If you are choosing to delete your account after a period of inactivity, Google will ask that you enter that period first. The default is three months of inactivity; however, you can set it for up to eighteen months. Google will reach out to the user one month before the time is up with both emails and text messages prior to the account officially becoming inactive. It is important to ensure you have entered the correct contact information, as Google will use the email and phone numbers listed should you be locked out of the account at any time.
Another feature you can set up ahead of time is who can access your accounts, and what they will be able to see when logged in. Google allows you to enter up to 10 contacts that they will reach out to after they notice that your account has become inactive. You can customize exactly what your chosen people see in your account, such as contact information, Google history, photos, and more. These contacts will be able to access your account for up to 3 months after becoming inactive. Google highly suggests listing a spouse or close friend for this role.
Gmail will give you the option to create an autoreply that can be sent from your account when it becomes inactive. You can add a custom message that you are no longer using Gmail or that you have passed away. You can adjust this to send to only your contacts so that spam accounts do not automatically get your response.
The last option is whether you want your account to be automatically deleted after the period of inactivity or if Google has learned of your passing. Your named contacts will then have the three months to access anything needed. If you choose to not have the account deleted, it will eventually become locked over time.
A death can be traumatic enough and can generate a lot of work for loved ones left behind. Doing these simple steps online ahead of time can help make things a little easier during an otherwise challenging time. What do you have planned for your Google account?