What happens to your Facebook and other social media accounts after your death? State lawmakers are pondering that question as they consider new laws about a deceased person's "digital estate."
Most recently, a New Hampshire lawmaker proposed a bill that would allow the executor of an estate to access and shut down Facebook accounts. According to Facebook's terms of service, the company will not divulge login information, even to a deceased user's relatives, ABC News reports.
If passed, New Hampshire would join five other states that have already passed laws addressing one's online accounts after death (not all of them address social media sites like Facebook, however). Those states are:
- Connecticut. An executor or administrator of an estate can access the email accounts of the deceased. The law does not provide for any other online accounts such as Facebook or Twitter, however.
- Rhode Island. Similar to Connecticut, Rhode Island's law only grants to the executor or administrator of an estate access to the deceased person's email accounts. So it is questionable whether the deceased's representative can access other social media accounts like Facebook.
- Indiana. This law gives greater access to the representative of a deceased person. Presumably, the representative would be able to access any information stored digitally by another.
- Oklahoma. This law specifically authorizes an executor or administrator of an estate to have control over certain social networking, microblogging, or email accounts of the deceased.
- Idaho. A state law allows a representative of the deceased to take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate any accounts of the decedent on any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website, or any email service website. It's interesting that this state would allow someone to continue the account of another, even posthumously.
The New Hampshire law is still far from approval. The lawmaker who proposed the bill is still researching the issue. However, given the number of Facebook users and the importance of Facebook in many people's lives, you can expect more states to consider new laws.
- Bill would give control of deceased's social media to family (New Hampshire's WMUR-TV)
- Can You Include iTunes, eBooks in Your Will? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Digital Estate Planning: The Importance Of Giving Access To Online Accounts (FindLaw's New York Estate Planning Blog)
- Get an Attorney-Drafted Will, an Annual Will Review and More with a Pre-Paid Legal Plan from LegalStreet (LegalStreet.com)
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