Losing a loved one is not easy. If you are the next-of-kin, you or the selected administrator would have to decide how to deal with their property. While we mostly think of how to handle bank accounts and other tangible properties, we ought to also consider how to handle email accounts of a recently deceased person. One way to do this is via a digital will, but most people do not have one of these in place. In this day and age where information can easily be accessed and identities can possibly be stolen, it would be advisable to handle email accounts of a departed one with care.
How To Handle Email Accounts of Recently Deceased Person
There is usually some guidance especially from lawyers and banks on how to handle the assets that a deceased person left behind. However, in most cases, it is left to the family to determine how to handle the ‘online life’ that a deceased one had. Also, although some may write a will and indicate how they would like to have their property handled, there is often no indication of how their email accounts should be handled. Emails are very important since you would have to use them to open other accounts and access services such as internet banking. Since this is not an easy task to undertake, we look at how to handle email accounts of a recently deceased person.
Access their email
In most cases, people auto-save the passwords to make it easier to log in to their email accounts on their phones or on computers and other devices that are not commonly shared with other persons. Since some companies have strict policies regarding the sharing of data and passwords of their email account holders, this may be one way in which you may get access to a recently deceased person’s mail. You may then change the password to one that you will use to gain access to their email. By having such access, you may then decide on how you would handle their account.
Some companies such as Google provide features such as ‘Inactive Account Manager’ in Gmail accounts. In this, a person can select someone as their trusted contact and they also select the data they wish to have shared with their trusted contact. In case you were selected as a trusted contact, you will receive a notification on the inactivity of the account and later on access to the data the deceased wanted to be shared with you.
Contact the Company
In case you are unable to gain access to the email account of a deceased person, you would have to contact the company that provided them with the emailing services. This may be Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail or any other associated company. Here are a few policies for larger email providers.
1. How Google Handles Accounts of the Deceased
Google has a strict policy on data privacy and for that reason, it is their obligation to keep an account user’s information safe and secure, even after they are dead. They can not share private information such as login details or passwords.
However, Google receives requests from the immediate family or representatives of a deceased person and they then review it. Depending on the outcome f the review of the request you submit, you may handle a Gmail account of a deceased person by obtaining data from it, closing it, or requesting for funds from their account. In most cases, they will require you to provide the email address of the deceased and your personal information and some copies of your identification documents.
2. How Microsoft Handles Accounts of the Deceased
Microsoft, just like Google, has strict policies when it comes to data privacy and protection. Therefore, they will not be able to assist you in doing password resets or account recoveries if the account in question is that of a deceased person. At the moment, the Microsoft Next of Kin supports Windows Live Hotmail and MSN Hotmail accounts only. These are email accounts that end in @msn.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, or @windowslive.com, or). Microsoft Next of Kin support is not available for SkyDrive, and MSN Dial-up.
When push comes to shove, you may have to get a court order so as to delete the account of a deceased member of your family. This would be the case for companies that have strict policies that restrict close family members from deleting or accessing the email account of a recently deceased person.
Some email accounts are active so long as the subscription is paid for. If your loved one ad such an email account, you may opt not to pay for the subscription. This would result in the email account being inactive. However, you would have to find out how the email account will be handled on their end; whether it shall be deactivated or deleted.
Let the Account Expire
If you have no need for the data in the email account for a recently deceased person, you can do nothing and let the account expire. Most companies deactivate or delete accounts that are inactive for an extended period of time. However, if you do need to access the information, make sure that you try gaining access to the account or contact the company before the inactivity period lapses.
Your loved one could rely on you when they were alive and it would be expected of you to be accountable even in their death. You will respect them and their wishes, and also handle what they left behind. With this guide, we hope that you will be better informed on how to handle the email accounts of a recently deceased person.