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Google offers way to pass data to loved ones after death

Estate planning can be complex, depending on the level of detail that a person wants in their plan and how many assets they have. Now, Google has become the first major Internet company to offer its users a clear way of controlling what happens to data related to their accounts after their deaths.

The company says it will allow users to assign an Inactive Account Manager, or someone who can access the data for their accounts after a designated three, six, nine or 12 month period of time of a user being inactive on the accounts. This gives a designated person the ability to pass on their information to a friend or family member who can use the information, but will not be able to act as the original user. The people who are essentially heirs to the Google accounts will not be able to send emails or control the accounts, but will be able to see data and content in the accounts.

Many times Internet companies will not release information to family members in the event of the user passing away. An experienced estate planning attorney can help a person understand how estate planning works and help them form documents that can ensure that their wishes are followed.

People across the country and right here in New Jersey are constantly adding to their digital lives and increasing their online visibility. It is important that family members understand a person's wishes regarding their online accounts and any information they own in digital form.

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

-Our law firm handles various estate planning needs for New Jersey residents. Please visit our website to learn more.

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