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Google Rolls-Out Social Media & Digital Estate Plan

Clarkston Legal May 5, 2013

Truly, Google is everywhere. Now, the Big Data company is looking to get into your [digital] estate plan; and with some good reason.

Right around tax-time last month, Google rolled out its “digital afterlife” feature -technically and officially known as the inactive account manager. This tool allows Google users to provide Google with specific instructions about what to do with their Google data when they die.

Google has billed this feature as something to make it easier for a user or a user’s personal representative to manage a person’s personal data -one’s “digital estate”- after death. The inactive account manager was initially touted in the Google Public Policy Blog.

Nearly everyone has a Google account. Many of us have developed complex electronic profiles over the past decade; some of those profiles even have value.

The law has not caught-up with our electronic profiles. To date, only five states -Connecticut, Idaho, Rhode Island, Indiana, and Oklahoma have estate laws addressing digital assets. Not to worry, however, as the Uniform Law Commission has set about drafting a proposed uniform digital estate law that will make it much easier for other states, including Michigan, to adopt the appropriate legislation.

As time marches on, Google’s inactive account manager is banking on the specter that a majority of their user’s will want to preserve, protect or direct their data profiles. The inactive account manager is designed to aid in this task.

It is a very 21st Century concept. We here at the electronic probate attorney wonder what this account manager will look like in, say, 100-years from now.