Google is offering up a new tool that helps you sort out your online dealings automatically when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil. Think of it as a sort of post-mortem Google Takeout.
All you’ve got to do to get the ball rolling is visit Google’s Inactive Account Manager and set up your preferences. The timeout feature lets you specify the period after which action is taken — from three months to a full year. You’re free to change this whenever you want, so don’t feel like your plans to spend six months offline can’t go ahead if you decide to flip the switch.
Google also sends an alert to you a month before an action is taken in case you’ve changed your mind.
Next, you can choose to add a trusted contact. Google will notify him or her when your account is shut down, and even share your data with that person if you allow it.
Not sure you want to share all your digital dealings with anyone? You don’t have to. You can set your account to self-destruct, too. Once time expires, your Google profile data is deleted — digital dust to digital dust, as it were.
You don’t have to turn on the Inactive Account Manager, but this is a real convenience for anyone who is a heavy user of Google’s services. Estate planning is enough of a pain when it only involves things like the contents of your piggy bank and the deed to your car. When you have to lay out the particulars of your online existence and decide who has control in your absence, it’s enough to make anyone want to wear a hug jacket.