This can be one of the most tragic questions asked by the grieving. I advise as follows. Not usually. Unless arrangements are made before death, then the “stories of the email” will always remain just memories.
The safest and most astute method is to leave a list of Logins and Passwords on paper and kept with your will. This may be lodged with Berkeley Solicitors if confidentiality is a concern.
You should be aware that there is currently no way to “hack” into most online email accounts. And those left behind, no matter how close, even if they are executors of the estate, will not be able to persuade the host eg gmail.com to breach the deceased’s security.
Gmail has released a new safeguard, provided it is put in place whilst alive! Called Inactive Account Manager it allows account information including emails to be shared with a trusted contact automatically if Google has been unable to contact the account holder on a pre-defined mobile telephone within a set time period after last logon.
For further assistance with preparing your estate please contact Adrian Berkeley on 0161-371 0011 or firstname.lastname@example.org