Facebook has been making news with the new feature called Legacy Contact. Facebook now allows page owners to designate one Facebook member as a legacy contact with administrative privileges as designated by the page owner. Interested Facebook users can read all about the legacy contact feature here.
However a Google account can be much more wide ranging and far reaching than a Facebook account. Google is just not email, your Google account reaches deeper into the digital world due to the vast variety of services Google offers. At the option of the user, a Google account can access gmail as well as the Cloud, Youtube, Google Plus, Picasa, and Google Drive.
Google introduced the Inactive Account Manager feature to allow the account owner to designate how the Google services can be accessed after a death. Google users must first manually activate the inactive account manager, the feature is not found in your account settings until activation.
Google monitors signs that an account may have become inactive. Signs include last sign, email activity, Google app and Android activity, activity on the history page. The owner can designate when the timeout period begins and what will occur when the timeout ends and the inactive account manager is activated. Timeout periods can be three, six, nine, twelve, fifteen or eighteen months. Google can alert a user via text or email when the timeout expiration is approaching.
How To Setup A Google Inactive Account Manager
- After the inactive account manager is activated, users will be presented with an array of options including:
- Alert me – notification of when the timeout period is approaching
- Choose the timeout period prior to inactive account manager becoming active
- Chose up to 10 family or friends to notify that the account has become inactive. Data can also be shared with contacts if the option is chosen.
- Choose to delete account which will also delete all associated Google accounts.
What Information Will Be Shared With Designated Contact
Two options exist when designating a contact: the contact can just be informed of the inactivity or the user designates exactly what information is shared to the contact. It is an ala carte sharing option, users can select all the options or cherry pick which Google features to share. Options include: bookmarks, contacts, Drive, Google Play books, Picasa, Hangouts, Mail, Youtube.
Who Can Access Your Google Data?
The family or friends which you designate as an inactive account manager will have access to viewing your data including photos; they will not have access to creating any data and the control of the account is not passed to the designated contacts.
Estate planning laws continue to change as does state law which may regulate digital heirs and how and who has access to the digital afterlife. Just as state laws differ regarding wills and estate planning, each digital provider has its’ own rules. How the two are intertwined and the affect on the heirs and the intent of the account owner continues to evolve.