Requesting Account Access for Next of Kin and Others

If a member of the U-M community has personal information stored in a U-M account or online service needed by a family member or other individual with a personal relationship to the account holder, it is preferred that the account holder share the information as needed and appropriate with that individual.

In rare circumstances, however, if you need temporary access to personal email, files, or other digital resources associated with the U-M account of a deceased or incapacitated family member or other individual, you can contact the ITS Service Center for assistance. Be aware that:

  • U-M accounts are intended for the sole use of the account holder and should not be shared. They will not be transferred to another person for their use.
  • The university will review requests from family, executors, and others to recover personal information on a case-by-case basis.
  • It may take some time to contact other U-M departments as appropriate and to verify identity and relationship to the account holder as needed to comply with university policies regarding privacy and data protection.

What the Service Center Will Need to Know

  • Your relationship to the U-M account holder. You will be asked to verify your identity and your relationship to the account holder.
  • What you are requesting access to, such as email, images, or personal files stored on a U-M system. It is also helpful if you know the location of the information (for example, the name of the folder where it is stored).
  • Why you need access. The university strives to respect the privacy of the account holder and does not provide access lightly.

Considerations that Affect Access

  • If the account includes U-M intellectual property or research data, research collaborators or U-M departments may need to consent to access before it can be provided.
  • If the account contains sensitive information protected by laws, policies, or regulations (such as FERPA), access may be limited or not permitted.
  • Faculty and staff are asked to use Personal and Private folders to keep their personal email and files separate from their U-M work. Families and executors will generally not be given access to U-M work-related email, files, and other digital resources.
  • Depending on the information requested, U-M units, departments, or offices may need to be consulted as appropriate in accordance with U-M policy.

What You Can Expect if Access is Granted

  • You must agree you will not impersonate the person (for example, send email in their name) if you have temporary access to their email or other accounts.
  • The university will generally not sort through large amounts of email or files for very specific items.
  • For email, you may be given temporary access to the account or you may receive the zipped contents of a specific folder, depending on the situation.
  • For files, you will likely not be given access to the file storage. Instead, you may be provided with copies of folders or files that are not work-related (such as personal photos or documents).