Surrogate Rita Mella


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Petitioner filed an amended affidavit seeking authority to access his deceased spouse’s Google email, and calendar information, in this small estate proceeding, to inform friends of his passing, and close unfinished business. Google requested a court order indicating disclosure of content sought would not violate applicable laws. In the recently enacted Article 13 of the EPTL a custodian of electronic records shall disclose a catalogue of electronic communications sent or received by a deceased user to the personal representative of a decedent’s estate upon written request for disclosure, a death certificate and letter of appointment as fiduciary. A user’s calendar was not communication, but a digital asset that must be disclosed to a personal representative by the record’s custodian. Also, as petitioner was acting as a voluntary administrator, he had authority to request contacts and calendar information associated with decedent’s account. The court found petitioner identified for Google the email address of decedent’s account, alternatively finding disclosure was reasonably necessary for administration of the estate. Yet, authority to request disclosure of the email communications was denied without prejudice to show it was reasonably necessary for the estate’s administration.