In today’s day and age, it’s “virtually,” (no pun intended), impossible to avoid joining social networking sites. Everywhere you turn, a new site is being launched. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all act as portals for people all over the world to communicate with each other. But what happens to these accounts when you die?
You may be asking why anyone would even want access to these accounts after you die? Well, those accounts may be holding valuable information! Whether sentimental or financial, gaining access to those accounts may be of great importance to your loved ones after you die. For example, if you were a celebrity, publishing a book of your facebook statuses and tweets from twitter could prove very profitable. If you were a writer, publishing your blog posts could also be very lucrative. On the other hand, if you were a victim of crime, your family may want access to these accounts to see who you had been communicating with or investigate the circumstances surrounding your death. If the company owners delete these accounts upon your death, that information is lost and your family has no hope of access to it.
In addition to social networking sites, digital assets also include email accounts, iTunes accounts, and photo accounts. Site like Google and Yahoo may provide this information upon your death to an authorized representative of the deceased or by court order.
Laws regarding survivor rights of digital assets are elusive, with only few states, such as Oklahoma and Idaho having passed laws addressing these issues. One reason for this vagueness is that it is hard to ascertain whether or not these types of assets are property holding any value. However, the trend seems to be that people are increasingly suing to gain access to these accounts. What this means is that this area of law is developing, and with such developments will come legislation.
What should you do in the meantime? Should you create a will listing every single digital account you own? Experts say no. They feel as if detailing such accounts and making them available to the public through publication of a Last Will & Testament will open up the possibility of identity theft.
To discuss your concerns regarding your digital assets, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.