Despite the policies of most major email providers ensuring the privacy of emails, a law making its way through the Legislature would give family members access to the email accounts of deceased loved ones.
The proposal passed in the Senate last week and is now in the House Committee on Ways and Means. If passed, Massachusetts would become the sixth state – after Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Indiana and Idaho – to enact such a law.
Google, Yahoo! and other major providers have policies of not granting access to such accounts, but a state law would override those policies. (AOL, the parent company of Patch, allows next-of-kin to access emails, according to CNET.) However, the law would not override the decedant's will.
To gain access, a family member or other personal represenative would need to provide a death certificate along with a court order or a notarized request with proof of letters granting them access. Email providers would then have have 60 days to grant permissions to the account.