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Google's New Feature to Plan Digital Afterlife

People using Google's services will be now able to decide what will happen to their digital assets once they pass away or can no longer handle their accounts, thanks to a new feature called Inactive Account Manager, the search engine said in a recent blog post.

Many people try their hardest not to think about death, but deciding what they want done for their legacy, including their digital assets, really matters as it helps put things in order if the unexpected happens, according to Google. The search engine is the first major organisation to come up with a solution that addresses the issue of transferring digital assets. The new feature allows users to tell Google whether to delete information after they die or become inactive online or give someone else the right to handle their accounts.

Users can choose to have their accounts deleted after 3, 6, 9 or 12 months of inactivity or have the data sent to other contacts from certain or all of Google's services, including Gmail, Google+, Picasa, Drive, Google Voice and YouTube. Google will send a text message to the phone number or e-mail provided as a secondary e-mail address before taking any action, it said.

People across the globe are increasingly moving sensitive data to social networks and online data storage facilities known as the "cloud," which has sparked concerns about what happens to the digital footprints they leave after they pass away. The developers behind the new tool hope that it will help users to plan their digital afterlife in a way that shields their security and spares additional troubles to their loved ones.

Other companies have also devised practices to handle online possessions after death. Facebook, for example, allows users to have the profile of the deceased person memorialised.