Thursday, July 17, 2014
Many people fail to consider what will come of your online accounts when you die. While grieving relatives might want access for sentimental reasons or to settle financial issues, you may not want a spouse going through every single e-mail.
The Uniform Law Commission was on track Wednesday to endorse a plan that would give loved ones access to, but not control over, the deceased’s digital accounts, unless otherwise specified in a will. If the legislation is adopted by the legislature, a person’s online life could become as much a part of the estate plan as deciding what to do with physical possessions.
Privacy advocates are skeptical of the proposal. “The digital world is a different world from offline. No one would keep 10 years of every communication they ever had with dozens or even hundreds of people under their bed.”
While some tech providers have come up with their own solutions, the Uniform Law Commission’s proposed law would trump access rules outlined by a company’s terms of service agreement, although the representative would still have to abide by other rules including copyright laws.
See Anne Flaherty, What Happens to Your Online Accounts When You Die? Associated Press, July 16, 2014.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.