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Accessing Online Accounts After the Account Holder’s Death

facebook.jpgNJ Assembly Bill A-2943 will ease access to Online Accounts after a persons death.

The New Jersey State Assembly has approved legislation allowing an executor or administrator of an estate to assume control of a person’s online accounts in the event of her death. If the bill is approved by Congress, the executor or administrator will be able to conduct, continue or terminate the social networking website, micro-blogging, and e-mail websites.

Currently the executor or administrator must research, navigate and wade through the protocols in place for each separate website. For example, Yahoo! Mail will not allow access to an executor or administrator, or anyone else, unless it is court ordered while G-mail and Hotmail will allow access upon providing proof that the executor or administration has been authorized to access these accounts.

Social media websites each have their own rules. Facebook will not allow access to a deceased person’s account. They do however, provide a memorial status for the deceased person’s account. They require a copy of the death certificate to close the account, but will not grant access.

Twitter will allow the surviving family to save a backup of public Tweets and will close the deceased person’s account.. Similarly, LinkedIn requires the death be verified and will then simply remove the account. There is no provision to access the account.

YouTube requires completion of form to obtain access to a deceased user’s account. The account name, death certificate, and a power of attorney applicable to the YouTube account must be provided to YouTube. It takes approximately thirty days for YouTube to review the documents and process the request.

Bill A-2943 would streamline the process. The bill was received in the NJ State Senate on June 25, 2012 and was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. If passed, it will simplify the process for executors and administrators to handle and wrap up the online affairs of the deceased.

McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey estate planning and estate administration attorneys are experienced at planning for and navigating access to all types of assets after a person’s death. For more information or to obtain assistance, please visit our website, e-mail us, or call one of our attorneys at (973) 890-0004.