Upon the death of a close friend recently I realized that I needed to double check my accounts to make sure that I have everything set up for being dealt with in the event of my death. Over the years I have done things to make sure most of my accounts are handled but it is always good to check things over.
The first thing that I have done is printed a copy of my usernames and passwords document. Now you might say ‘Cary why do you have that in an electronic copy that can be printed?’ Well, the doc is all in code so it is not super helpful for anyone who has a look at it. That is why after I printed it, I also hand wrote what the code meant. Both of these items were placed with my Will and Trust documents in a lockbox in the US that my family has access to. Though it has been at least a year so if I make it home this year I will print another copy and update the file.
The next thing that I think about is my Google Account. Since many things henge off of access to my Google account I regularly check my account information. I already regularly go into https://myaccount.google.com/ and check on my privacy and security settings. Running password checks and security checks to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
Once you are in the account management section do a search for “inactive account manager”. This is a place where you can designate up to 10 people to have access to your Google data if you are inactive for 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or 18 months. You can choose to give them access to part or all of your Google data. You can also choose to have your entire account deleted upon inactivity. There are features set up to make sure that this doesn’t happen by accident as well. For example, every few months I receive an email reminding me that I have this set up and who I have designated.
Facebook has a similar service which can be found in their Legacy Contact information section. This allows you to designate a person who can control your account if needed as well as allow them access to download the data associated with your account.
One of the key things that I do with all of my accounts is regularly check that I have an alternate email and phone number attached to them. I generally use my work email since I check it regularly and this forces me to change that information every few years as I change schools or email addresses. I also attach a phone number to my account. I have recently had several friends who lost access to Facebook accounts and had a difficult time proving that they were themselves because the phone number attached to the account was old and no longer useable.
While none of us want to think about these things, it is important that we do and we keep our accounts as updated as possible so that we can control what happens with our data.