The Nebraska legislature is considering joining a small group of states that have recently enacted legislation granting the estates of deceased persons’ access to the deceased’s digital assets, such as Facebook and Google+ accounts. The reason that they are doing so is that digital assets are new and under current laws, an estate has to get a special court order to access the accounts and remove or update them. The process can be quite a hassle.
New York is not one of the states that has such a law. If you think that it should, it would be a good idea to contact your state representative in Albany and express your concerns. Of course, even after doing so, it will take a long time for the legislature to enact any new law that takes care of the issue.
Someday, New York might have similar legislation to what is being considered in Nebraska. Until that time, there are things that you can do to make things easier on your relatives. The simplest thing to do is to just make sure that someone responsible can find your user names and passwords for the websites that you frequent. You can also make your accounts and access to them a part of your larger estate plan. If you do not do that, then your relatives will have to jump through the hoops just to update your Facebook page to let your distant friends know what happened to you. Talk to an estate planning attorney about the best option for your digital assets.
Davidov Law Group is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.