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Settling your Online Estate; Where will your Email go?

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When we think of planning our estates, many times we picture giving our family boxes of scrapbooks and other memories. But what about the memories that sit in our email inboxes? Do you have a plan for what to do with your Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL or Gmail account after your death?

Yahoo has repeatedly refused to give anyone other than the account holder access to an e-mail account. On their terms of service, Yahoo states that your rights to your e-mail account terminate upon your death. As a result, the company has been taken to court because of their refusal to allow others access to a deceased person's e-mail.

Gmail's process is less cut and dried. Google states that in some cases, they may allow a legal representative of the deceased access to the Gmail account. The process involves sending Google a copy of the deceased's death certificate along with information about yourself. If Google allow you to proceed, then the company says that you will have to obtain an order from a U. S. court to continue with the process.

Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, offers Next of Kin, which allows a person access to the deceased's e-mail including all attachments and address book entries. You must follow their authentication process, which requires that you submit documents that include: an official death certificate, obituary, documentation proving that you are the next of kin, signed power of attorney documentation, or will or trust documentation showing that you are the executor.

Estate planning is a complex but necessary process that ensures that your wishes will be carried out after your death. Contact one of our experienced Chicago estate planning attorneys today to find out how to plan your own estate.

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