Will Your Loved Ones Have Access to Your Facebook Account after Your Death?
The social media phenomenon Facebook has maintained a policy over the last few years of closing Facebook accounts and changing passwords after it learns of the death of a Facebook account holder. In response to complaints, and in some cases, court orders granting heirs and loved ones access to such accounts, some states have enacted legislation addressing the issue. In 2010, Oklahoma passed a law that requires social networking sites to provide access to the accounts of family members who have died. Idaho, Rhode Island, Indiana and Connecticut have followed suit, and New Hampshire is considering a similar bill. Because estate matters are governed by state law in the United States, it is unlikely that there will be federal legislation addressing this issue.
It is not uncommon, in the estate planning process, for a person to grant access to bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, stock certificates and other sensitive personal documents. However, few people have given consideration to access to digital accounts. Typically, in the absence of a court order, you may not be able to obtain access to any online account that requires username and password, including e-mail, subscription accounts, social medial and financial accounts, unless you get a court order.
Ryan Kiesel, the Oklahoma legislator who drafted the Oklahoma law, stressed that the new statute eliminates the need for loved ones to go to court to obtain access to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and similar accounts. Instead, the law grants the administrator of the estate the immediate authority to act on behalf of the deceased with respect to digital accounts.
You can, however, specifically state in a will or trust how access to your online accounts will be managed after your death. In addition, it may be beneficial for you to safely store all username and password information, in a location where your loved ones will know to find it upon your death.
Contact the Law Office of Halligan & Keaton
At Halligan & Keaton, we offer more than 60 years of combined legal experience to people throughout in and around Media, Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation to discuss your estate planning needs, call our office at
610-566-6030 or contact us online. We will travel to your home, a long-term care facility or the hospital to meet with you.