Will my family be able to access my emails when I die?
28 November 2019 by Amy Burton
Most people’s lives revolve around information they store, send or receive via email. If you were to pass away, your email account could hold important information that might give your family clues about what bank accounts you hold, what business interests you have, or what insurance policies you may have taken out during your lifetime.
However, extreme caution has to be exercised by your family or, more importantly, your executors when deciding how to access such information.
If they knew, or had found, your passwords to your email accounts and logged in with this information, they could potentially be committing a criminal offence.
The Computer Misuse Act 1990 is a piece of law that provides definitive guidelines about the unauthorised accessing, or modification, of data on a computer system and details the circumstances in which this becomes a crime.
Such an example would, in most circumstances, include an individual using a private password to access a deceased’s email account – regardless of whether that individual is an executor or whether the deceased had left specific instructions for the executor to do this.
Therefore, to stay on the safe side of the law, it would be advisable for the executor to contact the specific email host to find out what their rules and requirements are for accessing someone’s emails, contact lists and other sensitive information upon their death. Because there are no strict legal requirements, most hosts will have their own set of guidelines about whether this information can be disclosed to an executor and in what format.
Dignity have prepared a thorough guide as to how to manage online accounts when someone has passed away and how to contact the various hosts. You can find this information by clicking HERE.
If you have any specific concerns regarding your estate planning or queries about how your executors will manage your digital assets, then please get in touch us with via 01206 700113 or [email protected].
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