Facebook After Death: Will Legislators "Like" Proposed Bill?

There are many facets of a person's life that must be dealt with after death by those who are charged with estate administration. While most of the responsibilities for estate administrators are financial in nature, there is one relatively nascent "asset" that people have but is often unaccounted for in estate planning: a Facebook account.

There are some contingencies in place already for when Facebook users pass away: there are so-called memorialized profiles that act as a repository of memories of the departed person. Facebook changes the privacy settings to make the profile available only to existing friends, removes status updates and deletes contact information.

While this might seem like an insignificant part of estate planning, the profiles could have sensitive information that might be of interest to spouses or other family members who might be battling over the deceased person's estate. Now, one state is considering putting into law who would control the Facebook, Twitter, email and other accounts of a person who dies.

The bill in the Nebraska legislature would allow an estate administrator specific authority to control a person's social media accounts, either by continuing them or ending them. While the bill's sponsor is not very familiar with the technology -- he admits to having neither a Facebook or a Twitter account -- his is sponsoring the bill at the request of the state bar association, which would like to have some clarification put into law about what is more frequently becoming an issue that requires resolution in the probate process.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, "Senators deal with what happens when Facebook users die," JoAnne Young, Jan. 18, 2012

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