Google treats the privacy of its users email accounts seriously and will not allow next of kin access to an account. You can request to close a gmail account, or submit a request for data from a person’s account which will be considered after careful review. Google however does offer its users a pre-planning tool called Inactive Account Manager. This tool allows you to tell Google what you’d like to do with your email and data after a set period of inactivity. You can have your data deleted after 3, 6, 9 or 12 months of inactivity, or you can choose to have your data sent on to up to 10 trusted contacts.


When you close a Microsoft Account it deletes all other Microsoft services linked to that account such as Outlook, Skype, all files saved on OneDrive, Xbox Live data and GamerTag. Microsoft does have a Next of Kin Process Team who may be able to help you with special requests under certain circumstances, but like Google they will not give you username or password access.


You can request to close a Yahoo email account but again, to protect the privacy of the deceased, no requests can be made for password information. Once Yahoo are informed the account holder has passed away they delete all content in their account regardless of what precious photos or documents it may contain.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are another area where privacy laws are enforced. So, if you need to access the contacts or photos of a deceased person’s phone that is locked by a password you may have trouble. The Digital Legacy Association offer some useful advice on how to keep memories safe on a mobile phone.