More useful information just came across my radar from CC which is worth preserving here. It’s about the process involved in opening a deceased person’s gmail account but I’m sure a similar procedure exists in just about any online service. Obviously it would just be easier on your poor family if you wrote out a list of contacts in case of death rather than forcing them to look through your dirty laundry? And for those who keep EVERY email you have ever received, perhaps you really don’t want to be archiving all that stuff after all, eh? Especially given the levels of privacy being invaded every day by
frightening exciting new Google inventions.
Here is our formal request for information concerning access to a deceased person’s Gmail account. It should provide all the information you will need to proceed with contacting us for access.
If an individual has passed away and you need access to the content of his or her Gmail account, please fax or mail us the following information:
1. Your full name and contact information, including a verifiable email address.
2. The Gmail address of the individual who passed away.
3a. The full header from an email message that you have received at your verifiable email address, from the Gmail account in question. (To obtain the header from a message in Gmail, open the message, click ‘More options,’ then click ‘Show original.’ Copy everything from ‘Delivered- To:’ through the ‘References:’ line. To obtain headers from other webmail or email providers, please refer to http://www.spamcop.com/help_with_headers/)
3b. The entire contents of the message.
4. A copy of the death certificate of the deceased.
5. A copy of the document that gives you Power of Attorney over the Gmail account.
6. If you are the parent of the individual, please send us a copy of the Birth Certificate if the Gmail account owner was under the age of 18. In this case, Power of Attorney is not required.
Attention: Gmail User Support
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
After we’ve received the above information, we’ll need 30 days to process and validate the documents that you’ve provided. If you need access to the account sooner, in accordance with state and federal law, it is Google’s policy to only provide information pursuant to a valid third party court order or other appropriate legal process.
~ Gmail Guide