What happens to your Gmail and Google Drive after you die?

Not many people know that Google provides a way for your spouse or close relative to access your Gmail or Google Drive (or any Google service for that matter) after you pass on. It’s called Inactive Account Manager.

The rule is simple, after you activate the service, if you didn’t login to your Gmail for a particular time period (you can select the inactivity period from anywhere 3 months to 18 months), it will inform the person specified and share your Google Account access with them.

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Say, your inactive period is set to 6 months, after 4 months (2 months before the expiry), Google will send you a reminder SMS and email informing you that Inactive Account Manager will be activated in 2 months time. After which if you still do not login to your Gmail within the next 2 months, it will proceed to provide access to your Gmail to those people who you have specified. Below is the details of this service.

 

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This feature can be used to inform your spouse about any important things after you pass on, not necessarily about giving access to your Gmail. Ways to share important information with your close ones via this service:

  • Folder in a Gmail
    You can create a ‘folder’ in your Gmail and put all the important emails, files and information in it. You can instruct your spouse to check this particular folder in the automated email that will be sent to him/her in the event that this service activates. Important information could be regarding your smartphone, apps, banking, savings account, credit cards etc.
  • Store your info in Dropbox 
    You could store all the important info that will be useful to your spouse in your Dropbox in your smartphone. Since your Dropbox app has a lockscreen I presume (good practice to have, in case you lose your phone). You could just write a message in the automated email to your spouse as “Please open the Dropbox app in my smartphone with the the following PIN **** and you will find all the necessary information about this, this, this..etc”. (PIN would be useless to anyone without the physical smartphone).
  • Store your info in 1Password
    Same like Dropbox example above, but different service – 1Password or similar. You could store all the info in the 1Password app in your smartphone (not on the web). And keep the PIN in the Gmail to be sent to your spouse in the event that Inactive Account Manager activates.

Security Measures to Remember

Please make sure that you do not store full information in your Gmail account regarding your bank accounts, credit cards, private keys, passwords etc. If you use this service to share these kind of information with your spouse or close family members, try to store the information partially.

For example, your spouse will have access to your Credit Cards and Debit Cards in your wallet, but he/she might not necessarily remember the PINs to them. So, in your Gmail Inactivity Account Manager, you could just store the PINs, but not card details and pictures. This will prevent hackers from exploiting the information in case somehow they get hold of this information.

But, when you store partial information, it would be useless to the hackers but still valuable to your spouse.

Lastly..

I really hope and pray that there won’t be a need for this service to be activated in your lifetime, or at least until you are in your golden years… But it’s better to be prepared than not, as unfortunate events like accidents and health related issues like stroke and heart attacks may befall on us anytime unannounced. But I hope it won’t be the case.

URL: https://www.google.com/settings/u/0/account/inactive