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The Social Media Law Blog is a forum for lawyers, compliance personnel, human resources managers, and other professionals who are struggling with the legal implications of social media across a broad variety of topics. Working professionals and Bloomberg BNA editors may share ideas, raise issues, and network with colleagues to build a community of knowledge on this rapidly evolving topic. The ideas presented here are those of individuals, and Bloomberg BNA bears no responsibility for the appropriateness or accuracy of the communications between group members.



Social Media Law

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dealing With the Digital Accounts of the Dead


Should the executor or administrator of an estate have access to the digital accounts of the deceased? Or should those accounts, which often include social media, be off limits?

At least five states in recent years have enacted laws allowing an executor or administrator to obtain access to a decedent's digital accounts. The laws differ in the type of online accounts addressed, with some laws only covering email accounts while others authorize control of a decedent's blog, Facebook, or Twitter account.

At least ten states-including Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon-are addressing the issue in the current legislative session.

A Virginia bill headed to the governor's desk would allow access to the accounts of deceased minors. Virginia's bill notably limits its coverage to deceased minors, but that appears so far to be the exception, rather than the norm among bills addressing the issue.

A committee convened by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State laws has been discussing whether to draft a proposed uniform law on the issue to send to the states. Alternatively, the committee may decide instead to propose amendments to the Uniform Probate Code, Uniform Trust Code, Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act, and the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. The committee met Feb. 15-16 in Washington to discuss its current proposed draft.

Copyright 2013, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

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