Accessing online accounts

Is it possible to access online accounts?

Each website, platform and ISP determines their own policy regarding granting – or not granting – relatives access to the online accounts of a deceased person after his/her death.

Important: These policies may change at any time as, in general, the technological world is characterized by a high frequency of change. It is important for me not to mislead you in any way with the information I am about to present. Therefore, it is advisable, before any action is taken, to ensure that the guide you are consulting is the latest and most up-to-date version.

The specifications of particular policies may be found in the technical guide ( in my blog. The following is a summary of these policies:

International Websites, Platforms and Service providers

International websites, platforms and service providers more frequently publish policies regarding the granting of access to relatives after death. The table below does not detail the step-by-step ways in which the bereaved might realize each option, just the services’ ‘bottom line’ on posthumous access:

Name Policy Regarding Access To The Account Of A Deceased User Remarks


Does not grant access to the account nor a copy of the content

Offers to remove profiles of deceased users

Microsoft (Including Outlook, Hotmail, msn, Windowslive and other Microsoft products)

Allows for the release of all contents, including all emails and their attachments, address books, and Messenger contact lists

Do not provide the password to the account nor change the password on the account and does not transfer ownership of the account


Does not grant access to the account nor a copy of the content

Offers to have the account deactivated. You may ask for a copy of all public Tweets. You can ask for certain imagery of deceased to be removed

Yahoo! (Including Flickr)

Does not grant access to the account nor a copy of the content

Offers to close the account

Services that are absent from this list include DropBox and Vimeo, which have not published policies in relation to access following users’ death.

Instagram has not published its policy, but provides the option of downloading photos even without access to the account in question.

Google (Including Gmail, Blogger, Youtube, Picasa, Google plus and other Google products)

[Updated 19/7/15:]

Google has updated its policy and they now offer various options for dealing with a deceased person’s account, including:

  • Close the account of a deceased user
  • Submit a request for funds from a deceased user’s account
  • Obtain data from a deceased user’s account
  • Notify Google that a user is deceased
  • Resolve a potential hijacking of a deceased user’s account
  • Make plans for what should happen to my own account

Follow this link:

(For Facebook, click here)

(Taken from Death In The Digital Era: A Useful Guide by Vered Shavit, ‘Digital Dust’ March 2nd 2015)

One thought on “Accessing online accounts

  1. Pingback: Digital legacy section updates | A Valley Journal

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