That’s the stated purpose behind a tool the search giant announced Thursday: Inactive Account Manager. (In a blog post, the company admitted it was “not a great name.”) It covers all Google accounts, including Blogger, Drive, Google+ and Picasa.Inactive Account Manager lets you set a “timeout period” of three, six, nine or 12 months. After that, Google will either delete your data or pass it on to a trusted friend or family member.

In case you just happen to be on extended (rather than permanent) vacation, the Account Manager will send a text to your cellphone and an email to a designated non-Google account before taking action.

“This new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife in a way that protects your privacy and security,” writes Google product manager Andreas Tuerk.

SEE ALSO What Happens to Your Social Media Life When You Die?

Of course, it’s hardly the first tool that lets you plan your digital afterlife; we’ve covered a number of services that deal in this morbid and necessary subject. But it does give Google a jump on Facebook, which has an afterlife policy (profiles are turned into “memorial” pages; family members can petition to take them down) but no tool to let users decide ahead of time.

Is Google going about it the right way? What other options should this kind of tool include? Let us know in the comments.

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