Dear Tech Companies: Stop making it so hard on families of the dead.

Dear Tech Companies: Stop making it so hard on families of the dead. Rachel Donnelly May 11, 2022
Dear Tech Companies: Stop making it so hard on families of the dead.

Last week was a frustrating week.

You see, for the last few months, I have been helping a client go through the proper channels to request access to the contents of her deceased brother’s Google account. Tragically, her brother passed away last year due to COVID and because he died without a will and without her knowing many details of his affairs, it has been a process helping her.

One of the many ways we help clients is by helping them to close, archive or transfer accounts and sometimes that involves us doing research on the latest bureaucratic form to fill out or protocol to follow. However, with Google, the process is a lot more complicated.

I’m not going to bore you with all of the gory details, but we provided them with all of the documents they required, including the death certificate, Letters of Administration, fiduciary’s driver’s license, and even the metadata and routing information from the brother’s email account to help prove they had a relationship prior to his death.

However, after all of that, Google informed us that they require a U.S. Court Order before disclosing any content stored on behalf of the deceased user, which would cost my client thousands of additional dollars in legal fees, plus more time and more waiting.

This has been a heartbreaking and frustrating process for my client, but I hope that the lessons learned can help others down the road. So if you’re one of the almost 2B people worldwide who have a Gmail account, stop what you’re doing now and set up your Google Inactive Account Manager NOW. This is the best way for you to let Google know who should have access to your information in the event of death or incapacity.

If you need help getting your digital assets organized or help managing the bureaucracies that have followed in the wake of a loved one’s death, don’t hesitate to reach out today. You don’t have to do this alone.