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Google Creates Digital Will Service (For Digital Services) - Pinni Bohm


As a tax and estate planning attorney, I frequently help clients create estate plans that dictate how one's corporeal assets will be utilized post-death. When it comes to digital assets, however, planning becomes more difficult.


Does one hand a list of their secure passwords to a close friend or family member for safekeeping? But what happens when those passwords change, as they frequently do and should? What happens if there is a falling-out between the two individuals? While everyone should update their estate plan at least once a year, this does not always occur. As Claire Cain Miller phrases the question over at the Times: "One of the most haunting questions facing Web ... users is, what happens to the stuff of our digital lives after we die?"


Google has now released its own answer to this perennial question: "Inactive Account Manager." Google's Product Manager, Andreas Tuerk, states: "Not many of us like thinking about death -- especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you're gone is really important for the people you leave behind. So today, we're launching a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account."


"For example," the blog post continues, "you can choose to have your data deleted -- after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we'll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you've provided."


For more information on taking advantage of this new service, head over to Google's blog post, or read this informative CNET "How To" article.


Pinni Bohm, J.D., LL.M. (Tax), is a NYC tax and estate planning attorney. He can be contacted by email.
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