Digital Afterlife : What Happens to Your Online Accounts After You Die?
You probably know what happens to your house, assets or family heirloom on your death. Of course, because it’s all there in your will. But have you ever wondered what happens to your your e-mail accounts once you’ve reached the Pearly Gates?
Mourning kith and kin may want to access these accounts for sentimental reasons, inspite of your your personal messages and online dating profiles.
The Uniform Law Commission (Washington), appointed by the state on 16th July, 2014 endorsed a program whereby the loved ones could access but not control the deceased’s digital accounts. This however is yet to be adopted by the legislature; once is it however, a persons online life would also become an integral part of his will.
“This is something most people don’t think of until they are faced with it. They have no idea what is about to be lost,” said Karen Williams of Beaverton, Oregon, who sued Facebook for access to her 22-year-old son Loren’s account after he died in a 2005 motorcycle accident.
Presently most tech-providers have their own solutions. Facebook, for example, “memorializes” the accounts, allowing the close ones to view the profile whenever they desire; however for others, presently, once a will becomes public, anti-hacking laws becomes applicable on them. The courts aren’t convinced that a company supplying the technology should decide what happens to the deceased’s online accounts.
Uniform Law Commission to the rescue! According to the proposal the executor of the deceased would get access to, however not control the digital files, unless prohibited in his will. This would imply that the widow may access her late husbands e-mail accounts, however would not have permission to view any videos or send any e-mails.
This is a great initiative as every family/representative should have the right to access the departed’s digital data. Had this still been a generation of “Letters in the Shoebox”, that would have automatically fallen to the family of the deceased. Then why not the online profiles, for its sentimental value, if nothing else?
Three cheers to this step by the ULC!