Yesterday, Google announced a new feature that allows users to control the disposition of their digital assets after their death. With this feature , called “Inactive Account Manager”, users can choose to have their data in their Gmail, Google+, Picasa, Youtube, or other Google service accounts transferred to one or more contacts or deleted after a specified period of inactivity (3, 6, 9 or 12 months). Google will send users a warning message beforehand to a cell phone number and secondary email designated by the user.
Current law makes it difficult for personal representatives of an estate to obtain access over a decedent’s digital assets in social medial and email accounts. Hopefully, other internet companies will follow Google’s lead and will provide users with tools to control the disposition of their digital assets after death.
See Geoffrey A. Fowler, Google Lets Users Plan ‘Digital Afterlife’ By Naming Heirs, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 11, 2013.