It’s scary how much data Google probably has on you. Maybe to you, it’s not scary. But there could be lots of private things located deep in your data that you wouldn’t want to leave behind when you die. Many social media accounts have policies for what happens to your profile when you die. And even though, for a time, Google+ was a social media platform of interest, even it has joined the Halloween graveyard over at Google.
But for your non-social media accounts, there can still be troves of data left behind that you should consider. Managing your digital assets has become a significant topic of interest in recent times. When people put together their wills and estate plans, digital assets need to be considered too. While many of my clients want to discuss their financial accounts, and some want to discuss their social media accounts, hardly anyone asks about their data that Google has on them.
What Does Google Know About Me?
It’s safe to say that Google likely knows more about you than you think. There’s probably a lot more on their servers than just some of those embarrassing things you may have searched the internet for over the years. Has someone shared documents with you on Google Drive? Perhaps you’ve used Google Pay (in which case some banking information is stored). And especially for Android phone users, you may have a large cache of your photos on the Google servers.
What Can I Do?
If you do nothing, Google will continue to store your data. However, you can program your accounts and data to self-destruct (think old spy movies, without the explosion or small burst of fire) if you’ve been inactive The feature is called “Inactive Account Manager”. It lets you decide when your account can be deleted. The process for setting up your Inactive Account Manager was laid out nicely in a recent article on thenextweb.com.
With the feature, you can set up a time period where, if you’ve been inactive, your account will be closed for good. For those of you who may be forgetful (or who might not log onto their account very often), Google will also send you texts and emails in the time period leading up to the account closing. In case you’re still alive and don’t want the account to be deleted, the reminders should protect against that.
For further protection, you can also choose some trusted people to receive notifications as well. And before the account data is deleted, they can have the ability to download certain data before it is destroyed. For example, you may want them to be able to download your photos (or maybe not, depending on what’s in your photos…)
Now is a good time to look at your social media profiles and how you are storing your important information. If you’d like a copy of the My Personal Planning Essentials checklist used by my clients with their estate plan envelopes, click here and I’ll be glad to share a .pdf with you.