Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Family Tries To Gain Access To Deceased Son's Facebook

FacebookAs I have previously discussed, several states have moved to pass legislation that would provide access to online accounts following their owner's death. The reason that many states have done this is because social networking sites such as Facebook have privacy policies that do not allow the deceased's family members from accessing their accounts, even if the user was a minor. This exact scenario happened to Ricky and Diane Rash. The Virginia couple's son committed suicide two years ago and the family is hoping to gain some answers as to why their son committed suicide from his Facebook page. Unfortunately, Facebook will not allow the couple to gain access to their son's account because of their privacy policy. 

As a result, the Rash family is determined to change the law. Now, Virginia legislators have brought a piece of proposed legislation to the General Assembly's floor. If the law passes, the legislation would ensure that "digital assets" would become probate assets, subject to the control of the executor of the deceased person's estate. This would give access to an deceased owner's Facebook account and similar social media sites. 

See Tracy Sears, Family, Lawmakers Push For Facebook Changes Following Son's Suicide, CBS, Jan. 8, 2013.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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How did we miss this? Going to PearlVision now.

Posted by: brian j. cohan | Jan 17, 2013 5:00:02 PM

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