Death and domains
April 27, 2008 5:39 PM   Subscribe

How may one obtain access to a web site, or ownership of the domain, of someone who had recently died?

The person who had created my friend's church's web site recently died, but he didn't leave behind a password for the domain account. What should my friend's church do to obtain ownership of the domain?

My friend has since temporarily created a new site to host the church's content. However, he would still like to obtain ownership of the old domain because of its legacy value. Many other sites still point to the old domain. Web searches for the church reference the old domain, and although the hosting has expired, Google still caches the old site and attempts to re-direct to the old domain.

Does my friend have any options, or must he wait until the domain expires in December?
posted by brandnew to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd suggest they contact the registrar (using official church letter head, etc.) with a copy of the death announcement and a plea for help.
posted by belladonna at 5:53 PM on April 27, 2008

brandnew - the church does not want to wait until it expires. If the domain gets any traffic at all it will get snatched up as soon as it's available. Have the church contact the registrar and find out what kind of information they need in order to transfer the domain to their control.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:56 PM on April 27, 2008

When I had to do this it required a FAX on the business stationery with the same address as the registration. I needed to indicate that the original contact was dead, and that I was the new contact. Your domain registry may have different requirements.
posted by Gungho at 8:13 PM on April 27, 2008

An important point is who actually owns the domain, i.e, who is listed as the registrant. Hopefully the deceased person registered it in the church's name. If that's the case then the other suggestions here will work. The registrar's website should give some instructions on what to do if the "I have forgotten my password" link won't work because you don't have access to the email address. Once you have access then you can change contacts, point the name servers at a different host etc.

If this person registered it in their own name then it gets more complicated. I've seen this happen through perfectly well meaning actions. Someone just didn't give it a thought when they volunteered to setup a site. The registrar won't give you information without the owner's (I guess in this case, their estate's) cooperation.
posted by tetranz at 4:10 AM on April 28, 2008

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