Take action today. Call our experts at: phone icon1-800-522-5221


What Happens to Your Email Account When You Pass Away?


In today’s digital age — and even before it — it’s easy to lose track of the numerous accounts you’ve created, from various social platforms to businesses you interact with, to email. Many of your accounts will continue on after you pass away, unless you have a plan for someone to close or otherwise handle them when you’re gone. Have you thought about what would happen to your email accounts in the event of your death? With so much of our daily activities taking place online, it’s important to plan now for how others should handle your email when you’re gone.  

Choosing How to Handle Your Email 

The first thing you’ll want to decide now is if you want your survivors to be able to access your email account(s) or if you would like the information to remain private. If you would like other trusted individuals to have access to your email account(s), you will need to give them access (i.e., your username and password) and provide instructions on how you wish them to handle any files and communications there. 

However, if you do not want your survivors to have access to your email account(s), consider deleting the ones you no longer use or plan to use. Alternatively, you can rely on your email provider’s inactive email account protocol which will delete the account automatically after some time of non-use has passed. Look into this option now so that you understand how it works and can be assured that it will not involve any further action in the future. Keep in mind that a survivor can contact an email provider to inform them of an account holder’s passing without the consent of the account holder, if protocol is followed. 

Different Providers, Different Protocols 

Some email providers allow their account holders to decide what happens to their email accounts. For example, Google allows Gmail account holders to use a tool called Inactive Account Manager that lets you to choose whether the account will be deleted after inactivity or to have Google forward information to a person you selected, trusted information after a period of inactivity. If no one reports the death to Google, the account will be marked as inactive after nine months of no activity. Google may delete the contents of an inactive account. Outlook email is handled similarly in the event of inactivity of death. You can provide your login credentials to a family member or personal representative or after two years of inactivity the account will be closed automatically. 

Be sure you understand and follow each of your email provider’s (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc.) protocol for inactivity to ensure that your email address is handled according to your preferences.  

Email Is Only One Part of Your Life 

While you’re taking the time to include email handling in your estate planning, if you are an AAFMAA Member, ask us how we can help you with other items. For a more comprehensive look at planning and preparing for your death, download our Military Survivor Checklist, or contact us at 800-522-5221