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Communications

How To Send Email When You're Dead 165

Posted by timothy
from the use-your-dead-hand dept.
The Narrative Fallacy writes "'The Last Messages Club' is a new service that sends personal emails written prior to one's death to loved ones in the future. The messages can range from a final love letter, guidance for someone left behind, a list of instructions, details on life insurance and other financial information. 'No one likes to think about their impending "demise," but it is much better to be fully-prepared, so that there is less stress on your loved ones after you pass away,' says founder Geoff Reiss. The system works by giving each member a secure and private vault where they are able to create messages to be sent specifically to their chosen recipient. A secure process ensures that messages are only sent after at least two people appointed by the user have confirmed that you have died and other safety criteria are met. 'I thought at first that maybe it was a bit ghoulish but on consideration I think it's a great idea as it would be nice for loved ones to receive messages from me when I'm no longer here,' says a technical adviser to the company. 'It's strange really as it makes you confront your own mortality in a sense.'"
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How To Send Email When You're Dead

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  • Creepy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Annwvyn (1611587) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:16AM (#29082411)
    Though I suppose it is no more creepier than a will. Does said death-mail have legal standing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What would really be creepy is if the "Reply" button was greyed out. Or, if you hit Reply, Outlook would raise the message box: The intended recipient is not available, and never will be. If you would like to leave a thoughtful message, perhaps you should have communicated some of that when s/he was still alive.

      • by kdemetter (965669) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @09:11AM (#29083047)

        Something like :

        "This is the mail system at host xxxxx.

        I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
        be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

        For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster. "

        I get that all the time , from people who are alive , but their mailboxes have sadly passed away.

      • An Illinois man left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida, where his wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him in Orlando the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email. However, unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had written her email address, he did his best to type it from memory. Unfortunately, he missed one letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher's wife, whose husband had passed away only the
    • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:41AM (#29082551) Journal
      Now, if they could guarantee getting me a posthumous FP on /. it would be worth a look. They could call it "lastfirstpost.com" or something.

      Of course, you might get sent to hell for that.
      • by Idbar (1034346) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @08:33AM (#29082815)
        Sounds like a brilliant idea! What if laststatusupdate.com for example, changes my facebook status from single (we all know this is slashdot) to passed away.
        Maybe my twitter could be along the lines of "now i'm in a better place than my parents basement".
        Ok yes, it's creepy...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Maybe my twitter could be along the lines of "now i'm in a better place than my parents basement".

          A better plaec? Do you mean the great basement in the sky, with no entrance (so no-one bothers you), huge pizza that grows back overnight no matter how much of it you eat, and a never-ending LAN party?

        • by sootman (158191)

          What if laststatusupdate.com for example, changes my facebook status from single (we all know this is slashdot) to passed away.

          I'd also want a cron job that posts "still dead" randomly every 2-6 days.

      • by Sfing_ter (99478)

        Perhaps Cowboy Neal now has a new revenue stream.
        "Finally get that 'First POST' - after your final day - Send 99.95 to Cowboy Neal! Do it Today!!"

      • by sukotto (122876)

        If you're a "first post" poster then you're going to Hell anyway. :-)

      • by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Sunday August 16, 2009 @10:23AM (#29083583) Homepage Journal

        One late ./er did better than this. When Roland Piquepaille passed away, he posted a comment on his own Obituary thread [slashdot.org]. NOW THAT'S CREEPY!

      • Hey man, don't forget that Rapture thing. Yeah, there's like a zillion rapture e-mail sites, which are supposed to email all those suckers who don't get RAPTURED!! along with you.

        Really heavy duty, doods! I mean, Sarah Palin might even be an email buddy on one of those sites (Swwwooooooonnnnn!).

        Where's my barf bag????

    • Re:Creepy... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Empiricist (854346) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:50AM (#29082611)

      Does said death-mail have legal standing?

      It would depend on the state and the intent of the mail. Wills have traditionally required a lot of formalities to be effective (e.g., signatures of the testator and witnesses) with some interesting exceptions (e.g., the "holographic" will, a will written *entirely* in the hand of the testator). Many states have loosened up on the formalities though, but the document would still need to be a clear expression of the intent of the deceased.

      Plus, there could be some confusion if the document promised one thing, but another document promised something conflicting. Which one takes precedent? Would courts decide based on when the documents were created or when they were intended to be delivered?

      Another thing to consider is that these messages to be sent after death would probably be easier to obtain during lawsuit discovery than a will. A will written with an attorney's assistant may be a privileged document. If subpoenaed, The Last Messages Club may (or may not) fight to protect messages not yet delivered from discovery. But courts are less likely to protect such messages from disclosure than a will (although, perhaps various courts will agree to in camera review, meaning that the judge looks at the document first to decide whether it is relevant to the litigation at hand).

      One last thing to consider: your message might produce evidence that could lead to a lawsuit against your estate, and thus hold up your assets. The Last Messages Club could mitigate this problem by allowing your messages to be put on hold for a number of years after receiving proof of your death. This could help ensure that your estate has been disbursed and increase the probability of a statute of limitations being hit.

      As is, The Last Messages Club should probably be used to send those personal messages that don't have any real legal implications. If you want to write a will, hire a lawyer and do it right, don't try to do it yourself with a somewhat gimicky service.

    • What's wrong with setting up a cron job to run sendmail just before you die? That's what I usually do... Oh, wait...

    • Re:Creepy... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by capt.Hij (318203) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @08:38AM (#29082837) Homepage Journal

      Though I suppose it is no more creepier than a will. Does said death-mail have legal standing?

      My grandmother recently passed away. She had made a number of arrangements including her burial, the religious services, final wishes, and what not. It was a huge help and comfort for us. We had a set of guides to help us make decisions that we think that she would have preferred. Such decisions are difficult under normal circumstances but even more difficult right after she died. My father on the other hand made almost no provisions, and it was all the more difficult to get through the situation.

      I no longer see this as creepy but as a healthy and respectful way to treat your loved ones and to help them prepare for what they will have to face.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joe Tie. (567096)
        I think the main difference in how you see it is experience with death. I imagine it's creepy as hell if death is creepy as hell to you. But when you've come to see the inevitability of it, actually experienced it in your life, it becomes just another aspect of existence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jarik_Tentsu (1065748)

      I can see some epic pranks happening with this service in the future. =P

  • I LOL'd (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:17AM (#29082417)

    "No one likes to think about their impending demise"

    Ever been married?

    Captcha: ethanolfueledisafaggot

  • by Quentusrex (866560) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:18AM (#29082419)
    Sounds just like a movie... Strange, I have a craving for Jameson Irish Whiskey.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:20AM (#29082435)

    There's http://www.youvebeenleftbehind.com/ [youvebeenleftbehind.com].

    Really- it's not a joke.

  • I haven't been able to find it yet, but I believe this was mentioned on Slashdot at least a couple of years ago. Unless it was someone else running the same sort of site...
  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:29AM (#29082487)

    What if you are undead? Does the email get sent?

    • Only if you turn into the stupid kind that can't do anything productive anymore, like driving a car, using internet services and avoid getting your (mindless) head being blown up. The rest of us cancel our accounts so undeath is just business as usual, with different food preferences.
    • It will be unsent, but not always [microsoft.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:30AM (#29082491)

    A secure process ensures that messages are only sent after at least two people appointed by the user have confirmed that you have died and other safety criteria are met.

    Might as well get these two people to send that mail directly to my loved ones.

    • Also, if you give it directly to those two people, you know that if one of them should turn up dead, too, your message will be sent anyways. Since those people are inevitably some you have very close relations to, it's not unlikely that in case of a deadly accident, one of them might have been involved, too.

    • by Mozk (844858)

      This isn't news anyway. Websites like this have been around for a while [ktvu.com]. There are a few others I've seen, but I can't remember their names.

      I've never complained about what makes it to the front page on Slashdot, but really, the only thing connecting this to Slashdot's genre (news for nerds, stuff that matters) is that it has something to do with email.

    • by icegreentea (974342) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @12:31PM (#29084629)
      Unless you don't want those two people to know the contents of that mail.
  • by coffeechica (948145) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:34AM (#29082509)
    The idea of a will has existed for quite a while now. And your loved ones will, in all likeliness, find it a lot more useful if you leave them a dead-tree folder with all the collected information on insurances, people to notify, financial information etc. Much less creepy than postmortem emails, and less likely to end up in the spam filter. Not to mention that such a folder is useful in other situations too, such as if you have an accident and end up incapable of taking care of your affairs.
    • by jgrahn (181062)

      The idea of a will has existed for quite a while now. And your loved ones will, in all likeliness, find it a lot more useful if you leave them a dead-tree folder with all the collected information on insurances, people to notify, financial information etc. Much less creepy than postmortem emails, and less likely to end up in the spam filter. Not to mention that such a folder is useful in other situations too, such as if you have an accident and end up incapable of taking care of your affairs.

      Yeah. People w

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Felix Da Rat (93827)

      You are of course correct,

      However, if there was an option for sending letters out at specific times after your demise, that might offer some additional value. Being able to send your kids a message on their significant birthdays, for their (first) marriage, the birth of your first grandchild, etc. Things like that might add some value, of course such letters could sit in the same folder your propose, and wouldn't have to worry about technologies changing, new addresses, or the spam filter, but would be les

    • The emails can be sent to many many people, even those who probably would not read the will. Like maybe telling an old boss something, etc.

  • John Donne (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:36AM (#29082519)

    Ask not for who the inbox chimes; it chimes for thee

  • by iJusten (1198359) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @07:38AM (#29082531)
    "Sorry love, seems like I snuffed it, lol. Try 2 take care of the kidz!"
  • ... but I don't wanna die! :(
  • wasn't that in a law and order episode? If I remember correctly there was a bug in the system and it sent out all of the emails early and some guy committed suicide over it
  • What about a last goatse-like message posted on Slashdot?
  • Legacy Locker is another one http://legacylocker.com/ [legacylocker.com]. There was also one a while back specifically for online gamers. If you failed to login in a certain period of time, your guild (or whatever) was notified of your apparent demise.

  • 1) "I am gonna get ya!" 2) "Dear John, I am writing you to inform that you will die tomorrow. After you die, meet me at the cemetery at precisely 12am". 3) If you are not dead yet, please kindly disregard this message. Otherwise meet with us at midnight and head for the city. Braaaaizzz!!!
  • Most of us can't even reliably archive our family photos on a computer.

    Some companies charged with keeping people frozen cryogenicly can't even be trusted to do that job, and in those scenarios, the frozen person's potential future life is at stake.

    All those important post-mortem details mentioned in the summary can very reliably be handled with a safe deposit box, and one or more executors.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @08:27AM (#29082763) Journal
    Just print the text and graphics to plain paper, seal it in an envelop and make it part of the estate to be distributed by the executor. Very safe, hack proof and does not require any unusual level of cooperation from third parties nor fees. If you want you can leave a soft copy in a disk or a chip and ask the executor to email the message, if you are hung up over "its got to be email not mail".
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @08:39AM (#29082849) Homepage

    Some people will go to very great lengths in order to get "the last word" in on anything. If you are one of those people, this service is for you!

    • reminds me of Spike Milligan's grave [glenister.info].
    • This brings about the possibility for competing services. Your email gets hosted by this new company who checks whether there are any SMTP connections initiated from that service. If it detects one, it temporarily rejects the email then alerts the hit squad to kill you. Finally, once you are confirmed dead it will then accept the email and a highly trained team of witty satirists will compose and deliver a suitable comeback to the next of kin of the person who sent you the email.

  • How many people change their email addresses and won't receive your message - or have your death message filtered as spam?

    How about the good old practice of giving real letters to your attorney and having the firm mail them after you die. Returned mail would be cause for the firm to track down the party who didn't receive the letter...

  • Draft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eyeverve (1398151)
    Just write your emails to be sent after you die and leave them in your drafts box. Leave your email access information in your will and have someone you trust hit send for all of them. That would accomplish the same thing and wouldn't cost a dime.
  • Would be to do what Abe Vigoda has done ... set up a website [abevigoda.com] with your current status on it. When he finally dies, everyone will know,... and unfortunately the server will probably be slashdotted and die a horrible death within about six hours of Vigoda's actual death,... ;-)
  • ...to email "you were ADOPTED and we never loved you!" to his kid?

    • by grcumb (781340)

      ...to email "you were ADOPTED and we never loved you!" to his kid?

      I was thinking more about pwning the server and sending one to everyone else's kid. 8^)

  • Security? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772)

    Last Messages Club is as secure as a bank.

    That's exactly what i'm worried about, that it's just as (in)secure as a bank.

    If you post all your passwords and papers on a service like this to give to your loved ones when they're gone...

    And then the site gets pwn3d by some 13-year-old script kiddie, who dumps the database and starts selling the data, what then?

    I think i'll stick with paper letters, a bank lock box, and a safe with the key in it..

    (That my survivors get a safe technician to drill in order

  • in his Lazarus Long series, IIRC. It was called "Delay Mail," and was intended for use by time-travellers; there was an office where one could leave messages to be delivered to a specified person (possibly one's younger self) on a specified date, possibly centuries in the future.

    I'm afraid this constitutes prior art (insert clever time-travel remark here)...

  • by houghi (78078)

    Seriously, why? If someone want to send me something, why wait till you are dead? Why not say it now?

    Think about what message you would give to the people and then do NOT wait, do it now. If you want to say that you love or hate somebody or something, do not wait. It could very well be that you are not the first to go and then you will walk around with the idea of 'why did I not say it?'.

    If you can't say it now, it isn't worth saying at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joe Tie. (567096)
      Usually, it's not for the dead, it's for the living. It's a last laugh you can give them, a last memory, a last reminder of who you were. Even if the email was filled with things I was already quite certain of, getting one from any of my dead family would be wonderful. When they're gone, they're gone. Having that reprieved for even a minute would be great.
      • Usually, it's not for the dead, it's for the living. It's a last laugh you can give them, a last memory, a last reminder of who you were.

        Or, as the funeral industry calls it, Goatse from the Grave.

    • It could very well be that you are not the first to go and then you will walk around with the idea of 'why did I not say it?'.

      If I really can't say it, then yeah, that's a risk I have to take.

      If you can't say it now, it isn't worth saying at all.

      Let's take a really simple example: Say you hate your boss. You hate everything about the fucker. But you play nice, because you want to keep your job.

      Granted, I'd probably want out, but the way the economy is now, I'd want a better offer lined up, first.

      So yes, it would be kind of cool if, having died before getting that better offer, I could let him know what a prick I thought he was.

      Your advice is generally useful, and there are a lot of t

  • Reminds me of the Tasha Yar memorial video they played on ST:TNG after she got killed. After watching that thing, I decided that I was pretty happy that she got whacked.

  • Dead man's switch doesn't have this feature either, and I think it'd be really popular. I want more emails. Timed emails. I want to be able to have an email sent out on the anniversary of my death, separate ones for a ten year mark, on specific days of the year. As someone who's lost a lot of people over time, I just think it'd be awesome to have a person die and still be a part of your life like that. Even if it's just a "It's been a while. I just hope you know that I wish I could be there" type message.
    • Problem is, how do we know people will still be using anything like email ten years from now?

      Seems to me, this would be an expensive service to maintain.

  • Spam (Score:5, Funny)

    by boshi (612264) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @11:50AM (#29084315) Homepage
    What do I need this service for? I use windows, so when I pass away the malware on my computer will continue to send thousands of emails every day.
  • I read an article or blog post somewhere about what to do with your email and other accounts when you die. The writer pointed out that when his father died, having access to his email account was great help cause they had all of his old contacts, as well as on going billing and other stuff. As he said, as more and more stuff moves to email and online, a service like this would might be ideal. You could save your password to various accounts and this thing, and have it sent when you kick the bucket. Less has
  • Don't be a freak and don't send "emails from your grave". Maybe our twisted minds may see the humor in this, but trust me on this one, most others won't. Well, unless you are a kick ass script writer -in which case, what the hell are you doing on /.?

    An email from the grave falls into the same category as making the stupid joke of saying "no" at your wedding. You didn't mean it but your SO is shattered. Let's face it, most of our funerals will be nothing like Graham Chapman's.

    If you have anything to sa
    • An email from the grave falls into the same category as making the stupid joke of saying "no" at your wedding.

      Ok, if it was a joke, sure, but explain to me how this is any worse than a living will?

      If you have anything to say after you kicked the bucket, leave the message at a friend or at a notary's office.

      This is just a more high-tech way of doing so. It'd certainly be nice to be able to go back and edit them much more easily than going down to that notary's office, proving you are who you say you are, and replacing that piece of paper.

      • If you have anything to say after you kicked the bucket, leave the message at a friend or at a notary's office.

        This is just a more high-tech way of doing so. It'd certainly be nice to be able to go back and edit them much more easily than going down to that notary's office, proving you are who you say you are, and replacing that piece of paper.

        Messages from the grave aren't trivial. If they were, why bother at all and go through the pain? So you think about them for a while, apply changes and after so many months you deem these ready and schedule them for release at a notary's office. Think of it as a software release. Quick fixes mean you didn't think everything through and sometimes backfire horribly.

        One advantage of using the notary's office is that people will gather to hear/see your message. Imagine that uncle Phil who will inevitably rea

        • So you think about them for a while, apply changes and after so many months you...

          ...suddenly die, before they can get to the notary's office. It may not be perfect, but you're dead, so it's better than nothing, right?

          Think of it as a software release.

          I am. Release early and often.

          Quick fixes mean you didn't think everything through and sometimes backfire horribly.

          So does holding things back for months or years, trying to perfect them. See: Windows Vista, Duke Nukem Forever...

          One advantage of using the notary's office is that people will gather to hear/see your message. Imagine that uncle Phil who will inevitably read the email just before or after a chicken choke session.

          The former makes sense. I'm not sure I care much about the latter.

          I'm not sure I like email as a delivery mechanism, but I definitely like the idea of making it electronic. Ideally, I'd make them accessible on a website, but encrypt

  • I'm getting better!

    No, you're not. You'll be stone dead in a moment.

  • My favorite part of the site: 30 day free trial!
  • Here are some questions that are not answered by the FAQ:

    • What if all advisers die closely together with the owner? In case of a plane crash, for instance.
    • What if the owner develops a condition like Alzheimer's or if (s)he ends up in a coma for months before finally dying? Such a person would not be not able to keep the system up to date as advisers might die in the mean time, or as as e-mail addresses of those (s)he wants to send mail to change etc.

    As I've spent only a few minutes thinking this thro

  • Why is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mykdavies (1369) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @03:13PM (#29085873)

    How is this different from any of the following which have been around for years?

    http://www.deadmansswitch.net/ [deadmansswitch.net]
    http://lastpost.com/ [lastpost.com]
    http://www.youdeparted.com/ [youdeparted.com]
    http://www.letterfrombeyond.com/ [letterfrombeyond.com]
    http://mylastemail.com/ [mylastemail.com]
    http://www.postexpression.com/ [postexpression.com]
    http://www.finalthoughts.com/ [finalthoughts.com]

    • Given that finalthoughts seems to be a domain squatter, and postexpression seems to be down, I think what would be new is if there was a reliable way to do this.

  • In soviet Russia, corpse emails you! Oh wait...
  • I would sign up for this, if they gave an option of posting it as the first post under the "GNU/Hurd 1.0 Released" Slashdot story, when it happens.

  • I think it's silly to bet on a company to outlast you (unless you are in poor health or making risky life choices)

  • Back in the Bad Old pre-internet days, there was a thing called Ham Radio.

    Quite cool actually, scream so loud in the RF spectrum that some proto-geek on the far side of the planet can hear you.

    Anyhoo, in those distant days hams confirmed radio contact by exchanging postcards. Called them CQ cards if I remember correctly. Sort of a touch of something physical to go with the ethereal.

    Well, my dad was one of those 1950'60's era radio hams.... but he died when I was young.

    Strangely enough, about a year after he
  • Heh Heh...

  • for assholes/practical jokers... Perhaps I am just a sick bastard, but the first thing I thought of was to photoshop myself into several locals and every few years or so send out a email "I'm not dead, I am in Cancun!" accompanied by a picture. Then several days later "Just kidding, still dead..." Then several years later again "Gotcha, I am really in Canada eh!" etc...

    If people hate me now, wait til I am dead. This would also be good for destroying your enemies from the grave with some well timed release

  • I can't quote exactly which episode it was, but there was a company portrayed on the show that was established to send emails to friends and loved ones when the rapture [wikipedia.org] arrived. The system worked that there were two people who had to "check in" with the system periodically to prevent the emails from being sent out. Of course, being Law and Order, one of the people was murdered or something and thus didn't check in and thus the emails were sent out for a lot of displeased customers.

    (No, I don't believe in

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