For Families of Emeriti, Faculty, Staff, and Students

Process for obtaining personal email from the account of a deceased faculty, other academic personnel, faculty emeritus/a, or student.

Upon passing, a deceased person’s property generally reverts to their estate or trust, which includes the personal content of the University email account. As such, the University needs to ensure that the proper legal processes are followed when turning over this property. If the deceased’s survivors have filed a petition with a probate court, the family should secure “letters of office” from the court – a document that will supply legal proof that they are authorized to take action on behalf of the estate and that will enable the University to give the family a copy of the personal email stored in the deceased’s account. If the deceased person’s estate is held in trust, the trustee should supply written proof of authority to take action on behalf of the estate.

If the deceased did not have a will and his or her assets fall into the definition of a “small estate,” then the family should complete and submit a “small estate affidavit,” which in Illinois will give the family the authority to take actions for the estate, including the ability to obtain access to personal email.

This information and the following links are provided by The University of Chicago’s Office of Legal Counsel.

https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/how-to-use-small-estate-affidavit
(This web page may be helpful regarding the small estate requirements and what they enable the family to do.)

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/rtopr31.pdf
(This is a link to the Illinois small estate affidavit template, which if applicable, the family would need to complete, execute, and provide to the Office of Legal Counsel.)