Microsoft Next of Kin Process: What to do in the event of the death or incapacitation of a loved one with a Hotmail account.
If you have lost a family member, or have a family member who has become medically incapacitated, the following information will help you contact Microsoft regarding their Windows Live Hotmail or MSN Hotmail account.
What can Microsoft provide me with in relation to my family member’s Hotmail account?
The Microsoft Next of Kin process allows for the release of Hotmail contents, including all emails and their attachments, address book, and Messenger contact list, to the next of kin of a deceased or incapacitated account holder and/or closure of the Hotmail account, following a short authentication process. We cannot provide you with the password to the account or change the password on the account, and we cannot transfer ownership of the account to the next of kin. Account contents are released by way of a data DVD which is shipped to you.
Unfortunately, the Next of Kin department cannot assist you with password resets, account recovery, or any other support for your own account.
What products does the Microsoft Next of Kin process support?
At this time, the Microsoft Next of Kin process supports only Windows Live Hotmail or MSN Hotmail accounts (email accounts ending in @hotmail.com, @live.com, @windowslive.com, or @msn.com). We do not provide support for SkyDrive, MSN Dial-up, or Xbox Live.
How do I request the contents of my family member’s account, or request the closure of the account?
In order to request that the contents of the email account be released to you, or to request the closure of the account, please contact the Windows Live Custodian of Records by emailing email@example.com to initiate the process. To process your request, we require that you provide some information about the account as well as copies of documentation to verify the status of the account holder and your kinship. Please refer to “What information and documentation will I need to provide for the next of kin process?”
Please also provide us with an email address where we can reach you in case we have any follow-up questions and so we can notify you of the status of your request.
What documentation will I need to provide for the next of kin process?
In order to prove that you are legal next of kin and that the account holder is deceased or incapacitated, we require the following documentation:
1) An official death certificate for the user, if the user is deceased. Unfortunately, we cannot accept anything other than an official, government issued death certificate. Examples of documents which we cannot accept are:
a. An obituary
b. A coroner’s interim death certificate
c. A coroner’s statement of inquest into a death
d. A funeral director’s statement of services performed
2) A certified document signed by a medical professional in charge of the care of the user, if the user is incapacitated. A note signed by the doctor in charge and notarized will suffice, as will a signed court document showing that you have power of attorney or executorship of a trust for the account holder.
3) A Document showing that you are the user’s next of kin and/or executor or benefactor of their estate, or that you have power of attorney. We accept any of the following documents as proof of kinship or executor status:
a. A marriage certificate showing that you are the surving spouse of the account holder.
b. Signed power of attorney paperwork.
c. A copy of a will or trust document naming you as executor or beneficiary.
d. A birth certificate for the user, if you are their parent; or guardianship paperwork for legal guardians.
4) A photocopy of your government issued photo ID.
What information will I need to know about the Hotmail account?
We require answers to all of the following questions about the account holder’s email account.
1) What is or are the email address or addresses?
2) What is the first and last name that the account holder used when creating the account?
3) What is the date of birth that the account holder gave when creating the account?
4) What city, state, and zip code (for U.S. users) or country did the account holder enter as their place of residence when the account was created?
5) Approximately when was the account created? This doesn’t need to be anything specific. “During the late 1990s,” or “Around 2004” are perfectly acceptable answers.
6) Approximately when was the account last accessed? It is important that you tell us if you have been checking the account past the account holder’s date of death, or if you suspect that the account has been accessed by an unauthorized individual after the account holder’s death.
7) Your shipping address, if you are requesting a copy of the contents of the account. Please note that we cannot ship to a P.O. Box.
8) What type of computer you use, if you are requesting a copy of the contents of the account. We support PC, Mac, and Linux users, but we need to know what type of computer you use for preservation purposes.
How do I submit my documentation once I’ve gathered it?
Once you’ve gathered your documentation, you may submit it to us in any of the following three ways:
1) You may scan and email the documentation to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) You may fax the documentation to us at (425) 708-7851.
3) You may mail copies of the documentation to us at:
Next of Kin
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Please do not send originals of any of the documents, as all documents will be shredded upon completion of the verification process.
It’s going to take a while for me to gather all of this information, should I wait to contact you until I have everything?
We understand that it can take time to gather all of the necessary documents and submit them to Microsoft. We ask that you contact us at your earliest convenience to notify us of your request. This will allow us to complete a preservation of all of the data currently in the email account to prevent it from being deleted due to inactivity. Once you contact us, we will complete this preservation immediately, and will maintain it for a period of one year from the date of your initial response. After one year, your case will be closed and the account preservation will be deleted.
I have some of the documentation right now, but not all of it. Can I submit what I have while I gather the rest?
Certainly. We will maintain any documentation which you submit while we wait for you to submit any remaining pieces of documentation. Please bear in mind the one year timeline for all cases.
What happens if the verification process fails?
If for any reason we are unable to successfully verify that the email account belongs to the appropriate account holder, the account holder’s status, or your kinship; we will advise you that the verification process has failed. If this happens, we are prohibited from explaining specifically which piece or pieces of information did not match. We will ask for a completely new package of documentation, as well as any additional information you can give us which you think may help you pass the verification process on a subsequent attempt. Please note, however, that we can only allow a total of three (3) attempts to pass the verification process.
What languages do you accept documentation in?
We prefer that all documentation be submitted in English, or that you provide certified translations to English for all of your documents. Certified translations can be costly, however, and if you cannot provide a translation, we may provide translation assistance for some languages. Unfortunately, we are current unable to provide translation assistance for any language that uses an alphabet other than the standard Latin alphabet; Japanese, Cyrillic, or Arabic, for example.
How long should I expect the Next of Kin process to take?
Once you have contacted us with your initial request, you should expect to hear back within 3 business days. We are not open on weekends or major American holidays. Once we have received all of your documentation, the verification process should take no more than one business day, at which point you will be notified that either the verification process was successful, and we are in the process of shipping you a data DVD with the contents of the account, or that we have closed the account, depending upon your request; or that verification has failed. Shipments are usually received within 5 to 7 days.
What happens if I don’t receive my shipment, or if the disc is damaged?
If you do not receive your shipment within 7 days, please contact us by emailing email@example.com and we will track the package to determine its status. If the tracking states that the package has been delivered, but you did not receive it; or if the tracking states that the package has been lost, or if you receive a damaged disc, we will ship a new copy. Discs are encrypted to prevent unauthorized access and the password will be provided separately from the disc.
If you are having trouble accessing the data, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide step by step instructions to assist you.
My family member passed away some time ago, will you still be able to assist me?
Unfortunately, in most cases email account contents are deleted after 9 months of inactivity, and the account itself is deleted after an additional 3 months; for a total of one year. Once that happens, we are unable to recover any of the data from the account. We would recommend that you still contact us, however, in case the account has not yet been deleted.