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Old 02-03-2005, 09:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Location: Colorado
Inheritance of Email

No clear laws of inheritance cover Web data

Quote:
Stationed in a remote corner of Iraq, Marine Corps reservist Karl Linn's only means of communicating with the outside world was through a computer. Several times a week, the 20-year-old combat engineer would log on and send out a batch of e-mails and update a Web site with pictures of his adventures. For his parents in Midlothian, Va., the electronic updates were so precious that when he was killed last week in an enemy ambush, one of the first things they did was to contact the company that hosted their son's account. They wanted to know how to access the data and preserve it.

But who owns the material is a source of intense debate.
So who owns our email accounts when we die? Do you want your heirs going through them?
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A website is one thing but my personal emails? Hell no.
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Oregon, USA
Any electronic "personal effects" that I wish to be passed on will be saved onto permanent media, or the information needed to access it will be provided to my heirs.

I think these companies are doing the right thing by sticking to their user agreements despite the enormous pressure from the parents and the media. Just because someone's parents or spouse wants access to the information does not mean that the deceased owner wanted them to have that access.

I can easily see situations where people could get news that they would have been better off not knowing. How hard is it to imagine a wife finding E-mail to her dead husband's mistress or some similarly emotionally damaging information?
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Location: Colorado
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
A website is one thing but my personal emails? Hell no.
I agree, if I wanted my wife to have access to my email, I'd give her the password. There is nothing that bad in there, but her last memories of me do not need to include me whining about her to my brother.
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StanT
I agree, if I wanted my wife to have access to my email, I'd give her the password. There is nothing that bad in there, but her last memories of me do not need to include me whining about her to my brother.
LOL, I was thinking the same thing. But it is an interesting debate. What happens with all physical mail and personal effects? If you kept those around, certainly your family would have access to it. Why would it be any different for email...

[deleting all emails from ex-girlriend that I still stay in correspondance with now...]
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
sob
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When my brother died unexpectedly, I felt it was appropriate to check his online account.

I was named the executor of his estate in his will. All it took for me to get into his account was to read off the number from the credit card he paid the account with.

My brother was the type who would have concealed anything he didn't want seen. In fact, one of his hard drives was encrypted, and I never got into it. Although he had told me some of his passwords, he hadn't told me that one, so I assume it was private.

I wasn't being nosy; I was settling his affairs, as he asked me to in his will.

Anyway, once the person is dead, it's not like it makes a difference to them.
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Vermont
One difference is that the yahoo accounts are often the freebies. That does make it a little different to verify ownership since there is often no legal name tied to the account.
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