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It is prohibited to speak Lashon Harah (i.e. Slander, evil speech) about others.

Does this prohibition apply to the deceased?

The assumption being that the prohibition only would apply in a case where there is possible loss of reputation and income, which would only apply to a live person. As opposed to a dead person, where the loss of income or reputation is possible anymore.

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    What about family members of the deceased? Perhaps if lashon hara is spoken about a dead person, that person's family may suffer because of it. – ezra Jul 24 '17 at 19:46
  • @ezra is that factor in general included in the issur of Lashon Harah? – Shoel U'Meishiv Jul 24 '17 at 19:47
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    olamot.net/shiur/… – Gershon Gold Jul 24 '17 at 19:48
  • There is an idea of not mocking the day by not doing mitzvos or wearing leather near graves. Perhaps this concept could be apploed to speaking ill of them as well? – Laser123 Jul 24 '17 at 20:00
  • @Laser123 yes there is but that is not Lashon Harah. – Shoel U'Meishiv Jul 24 '17 at 20:19
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Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky in Emes L'Yaakov (Bereishis 34:37):

I was asked by a student how to explain the fact that the Torah includes descriptions of what happened with Yosef and his brothers. Isn't this a violation of the prohibition of the laws of lashon harah? Initially I answered that in truth the prohibition of lashon harah only applies when mentioning the living. Talking lashon harah about the dead is permitted according to Torah law and is prohibited only by an ancient cherem [see Orech Chaim 606:3]. However the prohibition of the cherem is only against saying false slander (motzi shem rah) and doesn't apply to negative true statements (lashon harah). However in truth this question of lashon harah in the Torah simply isn't a question. That is because Yosef's brothers in fact judged Yosef and sentenced him to death following the correct legal procedure. They paskened this way because they thought that that in fact was the law of the Torah and not because they were perverting the law...

Rabbi Dratch in an essay also echoes this (quoted here, original link does not work):

The Talmud (Brachos 19a) indicates that there is no prohibition of speaking lashon hara about the dead, either because the dead do not know what is being said about them or because they do not care what is being said about them. However, because their legacies are at stake, as well as the reputations and well-being of their surviving families, and because they cannot defend themselves, Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 606:3 cites a takanat kadmonim (ancient enactment) that prohibits “speaking ill of the dead.”

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Rav Moshe Isserles (Rema) states that, as per Shabbat 55b, saying Reuven sinned by sleeping with Bilhah constitutes forbidden speech (Responsa, no. 11). It qualifies as hotza’as shem ra. Presumably this reasoning would then extend to any other deceased person.

See also Shabbat 96b where R' Yehuda ben Betaira reprimands R' Akiva for attempting to reveal the identity of the m'koshesh eitzim, noting that if R' Akiva is wrong he has slandered Tzofchad.

See further discussion and sources in this post

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