The digital age has assigned new duties to anyone responsible for handling someone’s remaining affairs after they pass away. For example, you may one day need to manage a loved one’s digital afterlife.
This can involve a range of tasks. For example, you may need to delete someone’s Outlook account after they pass. Or, you might simply want to know how to delete your own Outlook account.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure how. This guide explains both processes.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Delete a Deceased Loved One's Outlook Account
- How to Close Your Own Outlook Account
- Frequently Asked Questions: Deleting an Outlook Account
That said, it’s worth noting that Outlook is a Microsoft product. That means that to delete an Outlook account, you technically need to delete your entire Microsoft account. Keep that in mind if you want to continue using other Microsoft products associated with your account.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling their unfinished business like closing accounts can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
How to Delete a Deceased Loved One’s Outlook Account
Closing a deceased loved one’s Outlook and Microsoft accounts may be among your executor duties. However, the process of doing so might not be as easy as you’d like in certain circumstances. This is due to Microsoft’s emphasis on privacy.
Essentially, you have three options when deleting an Outlook account for a deceased person. They are:
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Option 1: Access the account
You may already have access to the deceased’s Microsoft account. If you do, deleting it is as simple as following the same steps you would follow when deleting your own. The next section of this blog describes the process.
Tip: If a loved one has given you permission to access their digital accounts after their passing, use a password manager to ensure you don’t have any trouble doing so when the time comes.
Option 2: Wait
Again, for privacy reasons, Microsoft generally won’t let you access the account of someone who passed if you don’t have the proper credentials. Microsoft instead advises you to wait. You don’t even have to notify them of the deceased’s passing. The account will automatically delete itself after two years of inactivity.
However, you may need to cancel Microsoft account subscriptions for the deceased in the meantime. You can cancel credit cards after a death, cancel the deceased’s bank account, or inform the bank directly to do so.
Option 3: Get legal assistance
If you don’t have access to the account and you don’t want to wait two years for Microsoft to automatically delete it, you’ll need to take legal action. The company won’t consider granting access before first receiving a valid subpoena or court order.
Even when they do receive a subpoena or court order, they’ll still take some time to review the relevant laws before deciding whether to comply.
These limitations may frustrate you if you wish the process were simpler. Microsoft enforces these policies because an Outlook or similar account can contain private information that an individual may not want others to discover, even after their passing.
Thus, if they didn’t provide anyone with access to their account before they died, Microsoft is reluctant to grant that permission in their place.
How to Close Your Own Outlook Account
While deleting an Outlook account and Microsoft account of a deceased person can be somewhat challenging if you don’t already have access, deleting your own is a fairly simple process. Here’s how to go about it:
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Step 1: Take preliminary steps
Before actually beginning the process of deleting your Outlook account by deleting your Microsoft account, Microsoft encourages you to take certain initial steps. They include:
- Spend any funds remaining in your Microsoft account
- Cancel subscriptions you have through your Microsoft account
- Save your contacts list and let people know how to reach you going forward
- Save your Microsoft files and data
Step 2: Go to "Close Your Account"
Follow the link to Microsoft’s “Close your account” page. It will prompt you to log in. If you have multiple Microsoft accounts, or other people with their own Microsoft accounts also use the device you’re on, confirm it’s the correct account before logging in. Choose “Sign in with a different account” if it’s not.
Step 3: Read the disclaimer list
After signing in, you’ll see a list of points essentially letting you know what happens when you close your account. Read each item carefully and select the checkboxes indicating you did so.
Step 4: Close the account
Finally, choose the reason you have for closing your account from the dropdown list, then select “Mark account for closure.” You’re all set!
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Frequently Asked Questions: Deleting an Outlook Account
You should consider contacting Microsoft directly if you still have questions this guide hasn’t provided the answers to. That said, the following info may address those questions.
What happens when you delete an Outlook account?
When you delete an Outlook account, Microsoft permanently deletes both your email and contacts from the company’s servers. You can’t recover them after this happens. Keep that in mind before deciding you definitely want to close your account.
Luckily, when you finish the process of deleting your account, Microsoft waits 60 days before actually shutting it down. This gives you time to contact the company and restore your account if you change your mind.
Do you have to delete your Outlook account online?
The answer to this depends on your goals. If you want to completely delete an account, you have to do so online. However, if you merely want to remove an Outlook account from a particular device, follow these steps:
- Click the Start button, then select Settings>Accounts>Email & accounts
- Navigate to “Accounts used by email, calendar, and contacts” and select the account you want to remove under it, then select “Manage”
- Select “Delete account from this device”
- Select “Delete”
Again, this doesn’t completely shut down the account entirely. It just removes it from that one device.
Deleting an Outlook Account: A (Sometimes) Simple Process
While deleting your Outlook account doesn’t involve much work, unfortunately, deleting the Outlook account of someone who’s passed away could potentially be difficult if you didn’t prepare accordingly. This is something you need to consider during end-of-life planning in the digital age.
- “Accessing Outlook.com, OneDrive and other Microsoft services when someone has died.” Microsoft, support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/accessing-outlook-com-onedrive-and-other-microsoft-services-when-someone-has-died-ebbd2860-917e-4b39-9913-212362da6b2f
- “Close your Outlook.com account.” Microsoft, support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/close-your-outlook-com-account-564b801e-2a47-4cb2-afa8-12ead3185038
- “How to close your Microsoft account.” Microsoft, support.microsoft.com/en-us/account-billing/how-to-close-your-microsoft-account-c1b2d13f-4de6-6e1b-4a31-d9d668849979