Tue, Nov 25, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Web site touts postmortem e-mail option to die-hards

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Die-hard e-mail users take note. You can click "send" from the hereafter. Mylastemail.com, a British company, has introduced a service to hold a writer's farewell e-mail messages for three years, to be delivered after the writer's death. The service costs US$10, and if the three-year period expires before the subscriber does, the customer can renew.

The Web site saves customers and their families from having to make premature farewells, said Karen Peach, a company founder.

"It's not always appropriate to leave the house every day and make some long speech to your husband or children about how you might not return," said Peach, speaking from Yorkshire.

"We thought it would be good to have a log to put your thoughts down where there's no danger of people coming across it," she said.

Subscribers can store and update up to five megabytes of e-mail, video clips or photos, then print instructions so survivors can notify the site operators of the subscriber's death. When the company receives a death notification, it sends e-mail messages to designated survivors, prompting them to retrieve the messages from the site. To ensure privacy, the company says it uses an encryption system to bar employees from reading the mail.

The service is not the first of its type, but it is less expensive than LastWishes.com, which not only transmits postmortem e-mail messages but lets the user communicate about details like burial arrangements and financial disbursements. LastWishes, which has offices in Britain and the US, charges a US$40 enrollment fee, plus US$5 a year or US$99 for a lifetime membership.

In contrast, Peach said that mylastemail "wanted to do this as simple as possible." She said she was pleased with the early response. As of late last week, the site had more than five million visits. The number of subscribers was not disclosed; none had yet died.

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