Estate planning involves many more steps than drawing up a will or devising power of attorney forms although such things are often essential. California residents might wish to look outside the box and think about property, assets, and digital accounts. People with vital Google accounts may benefit from taking steps to weave Google passwords and information as part of the planning.
Important items in a Google account
Google accounts provide more than a Gmail email. Google Docs could be home to multitudes of audio, video, and text documents. Some may save tax returns, financial spreadsheets, information about other non-Google accounts, and more. Since many people wish to cut down on hardcopies and paper, a Google account might be home to critical items in a person’s life.
What happens when someone passes away or becomes unable to communicate? If no one has access to the Google accounts, all the information might be locked forever. “Forever” would be two years since Google deletes inactive accounts once 24 months pass.
Perhaps it would be helpful to put password information in the estate plan file. Conveying the information to an executor of the estate, health care proxy, or attorney-in-fact may move things along more smoothly.
Making sure the information is available
Google does provide options for users to share things in their accounts. Adding recovery emails for lost passwords is an option, and there’s also the ability to enter 10 email addresses for up to 10 contacts capable of accessing the account.
Reviewing Google’s policies and options for sharing and notifying others seems wise and so is compiling hardcopy lists of accounts and passwords. Putting that information into a client file at an attorney’s office keeps it secure and available when needed.
Besides Google, information about social media and financial accounts could go into the file. Someone may need to access those accounts when probating an estate or when dealing with healthcare decisions.
People with questions about estate planning, digital accounts, Google, and other concerns could discuss these issues with an attorney. This attorney could help with many areas of the planning process.