An interesting topic emerged at google groups some time ago. Someone from a family had passed away and the family wanted to access the gmail account of the person. According to gmail guide in order to do that you must provide the following information
All this information must be sent through post or fax to :
- Your full name and contact information, including a verifiable email address.
- The Gmail address of the individual who passed away.
- a) The full header from an email message that you have received at your verifiable email address, from the Gmail account in question. (To obtain the header from a message in Gmail, open the message, click 'More options,' then click 'Show original.' Copy everything from 'Delivered- To:' through the 'References:' line. To obtain headers from other webmail or email providers, please refer to http://www.spamcop.com/help_with_headers/)
b) The entire contents of the message.
- A copy of the death certificate of the deceased.
- A copy of the document that gives you Power of Attorney over the Gmail account.
- If you are the parent of the individual, please send us a copy of the Birth Certificate if the Gmail account owner was under the age of 18. In this case, Power of Attorney is not required.
Google will take approximately 30 days to process and verify the information and then give the person access to the email account if the information provided was correct.
Attention: Gmail User Support
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
In case of yahoo the only way to get access to the email account of a deceased is by going to court and then legally asking yahoo to give access to the account. The email account of the deceased, will otherwise, be closed after 90 days of inactivity.