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Google dashboard lets people decide what happens to their online data

Last week, Texas readers may recall that we discussed how important it is to make digital assets a part of the estate planning process. People often consider what will happen to their homes and large sums of money. However, it is also a good idea to consider what should happen to digital assets.

Google is trying to make the estate planning process easier for people by creating the Inactive Account Manager. The new dashboard allows people to determine what should happen to the data that is stored on various Google platforms after they die.

"We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife-in a way that protects your privacy and security - and make life easier for your loved ones after you're gone," a Google product manager said.

The Inactive Account Manager lets people decide whether or not their data should be passed on to family or friends or deleted entirely after periods of inactivity. People can choose to have their data distributed or destroyed after anywhere from three months to a year of inactivity.

Most Texas residents and others elsewhere don't want to think about their death. While it can feel strange to make plans for your own death, it can be highly beneficial for surviving family members.

As we mentioned last week, a lot of our personal information lives online. It is no surprise that a company like Google would begin helping people with estate planning for their digital assets. Only time will tell if other companies will follow in their footsteps.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Google Lets Users Plan 'Digital Afterlife' By Naming Heirs," Geoffrey A. Fowler, April 11, 2013

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