Help! What Happens To Your Digital Assets After You Pass Away?

Posted on: 17 August 2016

So many people are online these days doing activities such as replying to emails, posting on social media accounts, and streaming music. All of these are known as digital assets and they have become a big part of everyday life. The question is – what happens to your digital assets after you pass away?

A study by Rocket Lawyer shows that 63% of people have no idea what happens to their digital assets when they die. If you or someone you love spends a lot of time online, it is certainly in your best interest to learn more about what happens to them.

Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

There are no current federal laws in place dealing with digital assets. The only two in the books are the Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. However, the problem is that both of these acts were passed in 1986, years before the age of social media, so they only apply to internet service providers. Both acts basically prohibit anyone from accessing your online accounts without your authorization.

What Are the Laws of Your State?

Currently, there are only 19 states that have proposed laws regarding digital assets and out of those 19 states, only nine have actually passed laws. For instance, in Connecticut, SB 262 Public Act 05-136 states that executors may access your accounts,but must provide a death certificate and proof that they are your executor. In Nevada, SB 131 states that certain provisions must be met before anyone can delete any of your online accounts. In Rhode Island, Title 33 Chapter 27 Section 3 states that your executors can access your email accounts but may need to show a death certificate and proof that they are your executor in order to access your social media accounts.

What Are the Terms of Service of the Website?

Unless you have a will in place dealing with your digital assets, the states that currently don't have laws in place will revert to the website's Terms of Service. Each site out there has their own policies when it comes to the death of users. For instance, Facebook will not close your account when you pass away, but they will have your account memorialized, meaning your loved ones can write messages on your wall in remembrance. With Gmail, your executor can access and close your account by providing the required documentation. With Twitter, your family members may be able to delete your account and save a backup of your tweets by providing the required information.

The last thing you probably think about when it comes to getting things in order in the event of your death is your digital assets. However, by knowing the laws in your state and the website's Terms of Service, you can have a better understanding as to what will happen with your digital assets when you pass away. For more information, contact firms like McFarland & Masters LLC.