Online communications is gaining importance not only in social lives but in financial lives, as well, as seen in recent cases.
Requests for access to digital assets by families, executors and trustees are being made with more and more frequency. Sometimes access is requested to a social media account to assess the deceased's state of mind shortly before passing. Sometimes access is requested to an email account so that business operations can be determined and wrapped up. And, sometimes access is requested to financial accounts so that assets can be accounted for.
As the Monterrey Herald points out in "Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: On my death, please say goodbye to my Facebook friends," the default position of the tech companies to these requests has been a resounding no.
Because of this problem the Uniform Law Commission drafted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act which allows a testator to grant access to digital accounts to a fiduciary after the testator passes away.
This Act has been passed by nine states and more are expected follow suit. In the states where the Act is law it supersedes any contractual provisions of the tech companies that would deny access to digital accounts.
Perhaps it is time to learn about your state's laws on digital accounts and speak to your estate planning attorney about digital assets.
Reference: Monterrey Herald (Nov. 6, 2015) "Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: On my death, please say goodbye to my Facebook friends"