It may seem a bit macabre to imagine what will happen with regard to your Google account access when you die, but honestly, wouldn’t you rather make the decision about who gets access or what happens to your data while you are still completely in charge of your facilities? Yeah, I thought so. Here’s how to set that up.
Understand that at this time, this option is only available for personal accounts, not for Google Business accounts– likely because the admin of your business account (rather than your spouse, parent, or close friend) would probably be the one who needed to see your work related emails and other activities.
So to start, you need to go to your accounts settings page. This is where you’ll see the Inactive Account Manager option, where you can “decide what happens to your account when you stop using it.”
Click that option, and you’ll see the option to provide a mobile number so Google can get in touch with you before they do anything further. Next you set a timeout period for your account; let’s say you don’t log on for a year? Three months before that year is up, Google will try to contact you through email and your registered phone number.
You can choose anywhere from three months inactivity up to 18 months inactivity before any action is taken. You can then add up to 10 friends or family members who’ll receive notification that your account is inactive, and that they now have your Google account access. Be sensitive about this — if this is your main email address, there is a really good chance that if you’re inactive for a long period of time, it is because you’ve been hurt pretty badly or you’re dead (sorry). If you know it would be too much for your mom to handle seeing emails and other pictures you might have stored in Google, don’t select her; pick a good friend, instead. You can also opt to delete your account if you don’t want any of your secrets ever getting out.
I set Kev up as my trusted person. Should anything ever happen to me, he will have complete Google account access to all my personal “stuff”.
After you set a trusted contact, you get the option of creating an email that will go to them, three months before your account is timed out. On the off-chance that they are getting the email after you have actually passed away, it’s a good idea to be sensitive as you let them know why they are getting access to all of your information.
You also get the option of setting up an auto-responder for people who email you after you’ve allowed your account to go inactive (probably because you DIED). Don’t be callous, just direct them to someone who can help them out if they really have a legit question or if they didn’t know something had happened to you.
And yes, you can also simply delete your entire account and Google footprint, if you think that’s the best route.
Periodically, you will get emails from Google reminding you that your Inactive Account Manager is on, and who you’ve chosen to manage things if you don’t log in. They’ll look like this: