Following in the footsteps of numerous other states, California became the newest state to pass a digital assets bill, which allows individuals to access social media accounts, music accounts, gaming accounts or other digital accounts on behalf of a deceased individual.
The California Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides guidelines for how companies can share deceased individuals’ emails, IMs and other digital records following death.
The law allows an individual to “use an online tool to direct the custodian to disclose to a designated recipient or not disclose some or all of the user’s digital assets” Significantly, if the online tool contradicts the individual’s will, then the instructions in the online tool prevails. Otherwise, a user may provide instructions in his or her will.
Further, the law provides that an individual’s instructions override the custodian’s (like Facebook or LinkedIn) terms of service.
The law provides the social media company permission to grant full or partial access to the designated recipient if it receives a written request, a certified copy of the death certificate and a certified copy of the letter of appointment of the representative, along with authenticating information about the deceased user.
The passage of this bill is another gentle reminder for all individuals to think about their digital assets and how they want the assets to be accessed or distributed after their death.