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Currently, there is no federal law that dictates what happens to a person’s online data after they die or who is responsible for managing their digital estate. This seems surprising considering how Americans typically have a large amount of “digital property” that could be vulnerable to identity thieves and hackers who target the records of approximately 2.5 million deceased individuals a year.
In most states, since no legislation exists, the law relies on the particular services that manage an individual’s online assets, like Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter, and let their policies determine what is done with the person’s assets after their death. The most substantial legislation that has been passed in regards to one’s digital estate is called the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act created by the Uniform Law Commission. This act allows executors, trustees, or whomever is appointed by court complete access to a deceased person’s assets.
Digital Estate Laws
Click on your state below to see what legislation addresses a person’s digital asset management. Make sure to stay up-to-date with your current state laws and consult a licensed estate attorney in your state if you need help with these issues.
- States that Regulate Digital Assets
- States that Do Not Regulate Digital Assets
Although digital estate planning might seem essential in the times we live in, the roles of a digital executor are still a relatively new field of law. It would be wise to research any impediments your digital executor might encounter when carrying out your wishes, such as which websites might not allow them access, what authorization is needed, or whether you both need to reside in the same state.
A quick solution to all these concerns is addressing this with an estate planning attorney in your area who can review your estate planning document with you.