09 May 2013
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Q. Who can access my web email account after I die?

A. So much of our lives is connected with online accounts and websites of different sorts, including email, banking and taxes, that it causes major problems for relatives when a person dies. This is particularly a problem if a person dies suddenly. The easiest solution is to write down all online account details, access codes and passwords, but that is a labour of perfection that is unlikely to be achieved. A good start would be to at least list your bank accounts and insurance policies for your next of kin and add the passwords for your computer.

Google is taking this problem seriously. If you use Gmail as your email service, you can now set up an inactive account manager that kicks in after a period of account inactivity and gives your family or trusted contacts access to your Gmail account and other Google services.

At present, you need a court order to access a deceased family member's Gmail account. The inactive account manager makes it much easier. You can find the setup under 'account management' on the Google 'account settings' page.

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