TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Who Gets to See the E-mail of the Deceased?

Re: Who Gets to See the E-mail of the Deceased?
9 May 2005 07:49:40 -0700

Robert Bonomi responded to Lisa Hancock:

>> The e-mail should be treated no differently than any other personal
>> belongings and they revert to the next of kin or recipients specified
>> in a will.

> "Not exactly." ALL the property and "personal belongings" of the
> deceased belong to the ESTATE of the deceased. Until properly
> distributed to the inheritors -- either in accordance with a
> distribution schedule specified in a will, or according to statutory
> specifications.

My point was that it be handled like any other personal effects, not
the fine points of estate law. I was disagreeing with those web
enthusiasts as described in the original post who didn't want the
email released at all.

Keep in mind that many estates are settled without probate and court
orders. Getting that stuff is expensive and not worth it if the
estate is small, such as often in the case of a young person.

> All that had to happen was for the _executor_ of the estate to contact
> the Internet company, providing the *COURT*AUTHORIZATION* that (a)
> certifies that the person *is*, in fact, deceased, and (b) gives them,
> _as_executor_, access to any/all property belonging to the deceased.
> The family did _not_ have such documentation, when the original
> request was presented.

I would presume the family presented a death certificate which is
normally issued upon death.

As I mentioned above, going to court for probate and documentation is
expensive. For a person without any significant estate this could be
a waste of money.

> Eureka! That's right. But it was *not* the _executor_ that made the
> request to the Internet company. Hence the "difficulties".

If there is no will, the next of kin (as defined by law) becomes
by default the executor. I would suspect military documentation
provided that information.

> As the parents did *NOT* present a claim that they were acting 'on
> behalf of' THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, *their* request -- made in
> their own persona -- was properly denied.

Do we know that for sure? I would agree that if the parents
just merely showed up with no documentation that their request
should be denied. However, I presume there is official military
documentation stating next of kin and so forth and they could've
presented that.

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