As the cheerful old adage goes, there are only two things in life: death and taxes. And you should be extremely prepared for both, especially if you are very active on the network. After all, if the Grim Reaper touches you on the shoulder tomorrow, consider that all your online accounts are still working and no one will shut them down.
Google tried to fix this problem with a feature called “Inactive Account Manager”. This feature has been around for many years, but I am constantly amazed at the number of people who are not even aware of its existence. So, this article is intended to fix that and hopefully get some of you thinking about online life after death.
Inactive account manager – is there anyone?
An inactive Google Account Manager works the same way as you screen your elderly relatives to make sure they are still breathing. Basically, Google will track your Google account for signs of inactivity such as not logging in for months in a row, not using your account for anything, and the like.
After checking you several times and getting no response, Google will assume you are in the next life and will send an email to the “proxy” you provided during setup with details on how to access your account. This contact can then either close the account or continue working. Anything they (or you in your desire) prefer.
Even if you keep your account active so it is obvious that you are still alive, Google will regularly send you reminders that the inactive Account Manager is running. Therefore, if you have a falling out with a trusted person, these reminders may prompt you to change the contact to someone else.
How to set it up
Setting up an inactive account manager is easy. Here’s how to do it.
First of all, go to this link and sign in. You will see this screen. Click the blue Start button to start the process.
First, you need to define the parameters for what Google should consider “inactive”.
By default, they set 18 months of inactivity, but if you decide this is too long, you can change it by clicking the little pencil arrow on the right and a few more options will appear.
Next, you are asked to enter your mobile phone number. After you send you an email asking you to check your life status and get no response, Google will send you an SMS to make sure before contacting your trusted person. A confirmation SMS will be sent to your phone to verify the number.
You also need to provide a different email address to verify your status. This will require a verification code that will be sent to this email address to verify its validity.
After clicking the blue Next button, we move on to the Choose who to notify and what to share section.
As you can see on the screen, you can select up to ten people to be notified and they will have access to some of your data. Gmail will also set up an automatic reply (which you write) that will notify people that an account is inactive and they should stop sending emails to that address.
So click “Add Person” and a window will pop up.
Honestly, I will only add my wife. The thought of adding nine more people to read my email is too much for me! But you might have children, parents, close family members, etc. that you want to add.
After adding someone, you need to choose which of your Google accounts you want to share with them. This is a long list, so just check the ones that you think contain the information you need.
You can add their phone number so they can verify their identity first and also add a private message. Then you will see their email address on the screen as a trusted contact.
In the next step, you need to decide if Google should automatically delete your inactive account. I decided to let my wife decide, so I turned that off. You may think differently.
Now click on “Review Plan” to make sure everything is in order. Also, don’t forget to include email reminders.
Everything is good. Click Confirm Plan to enable the inactive account manager.
If you decide to disable it in the future, you can return to this page and click “Disable my plan”.