How to make sure your Google account is deleted after death

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Philippe Gloaguen

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While no one likes to think about death, being prepared can help, especially online. Here's how to make sure your Google account is deleted after your death.

For most people, it can be uncomfortable to think about what happens to you after you bite the bullet, let alone what happens to your online accounts like Google.

Unfortunately, Google Accounts contain a large amount of information, which hackers can use for their own purposes even after you have passed. From intimate details about your life to financial information, there are numerous things that most people don't trust anyone, especially those with no close friends or family.

In this article, we'll discuss why you should ask Google to delete your account when you die and how to do it yourself.

What happens to your Google account when you stop using it?

Unless specifically stated, Google has no way of determining whether or not the owner of an account has switched. However, Google creates lump sum accounts of deceased people along with other inactive accounts, which may belong to those who are still alive.

In the past, Google automatically deleted the accounts of users who were not logged in for a certain period. However, in 2021, Google updated its inactive account policy to delete only the contents of the inactive account, but not the account itself.

Unfortunately, while this can be useful for users who may have just forgotten their passwords, this doesn't bode well for everyone.

Nowadays, to be considered an inactive account, a user shouldn't have a Google Account login history for more than 24 months (or less, if you've changed your settings).

What content will Google automatically delete for inactive accounts?

Once Google has marked your account as inactive, Google will delete data which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Emails and attachments on Gmail
  • Photos on Google Photos
  • Chat history on Google Chat
  • Public and private videos on YouTube
  • Docs from Google Drive

With this, you can rest assured that most of your personal content will be deleted automatically.

Why should you tell Google to delete your account when you die?

While deleting content may seem like enough for some people, here are a few reasons why you should set up your Google account for deletion before you die.

Prevent impersonation

Unfortunately, not everyone who knows you will immediately notice that you are dead. For this reason, it can be dangerous if attackers can access your personal email addresses and use them to solicit money or scam people. With your proven email address, your leads are more likely to fall into the scammers' patterns.

Additionally, emails from your registered email address can mislead companies into believing that loan applications, job applications, contracts, and other registrations are from you. With this, hackers can use your credit score, valid contact details, and credibility to do bad things.

Block access to your 2FA-enabled online accounts

With access to your Gmail account, hackers can also use it to access your other personal accounts online. Since email is a common method for two-factor authentication (2FA), hackers can receive one-time pins (OTPs) or passcodes for your digital wallets, online bank accounts, or other sensitive accounts.

By removing your Gmail account from the equation, you can rest assured that the only people who will be able to access your accounts are those you have authorized. Alternatively, people will have to go through the appropriate legal channels before they can do so.

Delete your data from Google

Unfortunately, even though you may no longer be available, Google can still use your Google account as a data point for the people associated with your profile. After all, as with all types of security, we are only as safe as those around us.

If you want to give your friends or family the freedom to decide how much of their personal data needs to be collected online, you might want to consider permanently deleting your Google account.

How to set up automatic account deletion on Google

To set up your account to automatically delete itself (and not just its content) after your death, you need to log in and enable your inactive Google Account Manager. Then, you can direct him to delete your account upon transfer. That's how.

  • Open your settings 
  • click on Data and privacy .
  • Under More options, select Create a plan for your digital heritage .
  • On the Inactive Account Management page, you can customize the previous settings for your Google account.
  • In Plan what happens to your data if you can no longer use your Google account award Home .
  • Choose an option from 3, 6, 12 o 18 mesi .
  • Enter your alternate contact details, such as mobile number and email address.
  • Awards Forward.
  • If you want to add an inactive Account Manager, click Add person and follow the instructions provided on the screen.
  • If you want to add an automatic reply to notify people when your account is inactive, select Set automatic reply .
  • Select NEXT .
  • Finally, activate the button next to Yes, delete my inactive Google account .

After enabling the setting, Google will automatically delete your account after a minimum of three months of inactivity. Alternatively, this period may be longer if you have requested a longer waiting period on the form above.

Prior to the permanent deletion of your Google account, Google will notify you via your alternate contact details or, if you have selected one, your inactive Account Manager.

Once Google notifies your inactive account manager of your account status, it will be given plenty of time to access your data before Google deletes it permanently.

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