There is a saying that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. I have plenty of taxes in my life. But I have not yet experienced physical death. I think about death, but I don’t talk about it much with others. It’s not the most exciting topic and some people just don’t like to discuss it. Maybe that will change with age. I know the older I get the more often I think about it.
Back in MBA school, one of my professors made death planning a class project. Talk about weird! We were required to investigate options for funerals, burials, and ceremonies and then create a death plan to make decisions easier for those who we leave behind. The project gave us good opportunity to match study business and planning concepts while at the same time creating a document that would provide value to our loved ones. My plan is stashed in a safe along with my last will and testament.
Earlier this month Google announced a product called Inactive Acount Manager. The service allows you to tell Google how to handle your data should your account become inactive for a period of time. It’s an important service as many people are beginning to store valuable personal information with online services. Think about documents, music, photos, email, and social streams as examples. It could be a difficult assignment for my family to get access to the online photo library if I died tonight.
I signed up for the Google service because I have a growing collection of digital assets stored with Google. Much of this information I keep local also, but I like to use Google as an offsite disaster recovery silo. I started this a few years ago because my duplicated disks at home won’t stand up to a tornado or fire and I could never remember to make periodic backups and put them in a safe.
After giving initial consent the first step is to decide if you want to notify a trusted contact(s) or to permanently delete your files. I chose to setup information to notify a trusted contact after 3 month of inactivity (minimum inactivity period)
The next step is to select which Google data services to give to the contact. Google hasn’t listed all their services here, but I’m sure that is subject to change.
The final step is to create a personalized message to the contact. You might choose to reveal any kept secrets or make confessions in this note.
Do I feel safer now that I’ve done this? Well, this isn’t a one-answer-solves all solution. But it can be a piece of an effective plan to get information to loved ones and friends that one day I’ll leave behind.
I hope they’ll want to see it, read it, and pass it along. There is no guarantee of that but I think it’s a good topic for next week.