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Is a Facebook Page Part of an Estate?

BBC News has reported about an attempt by Nebraska lawmakers to authorize executors to access electronic information, including email accounts, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of deceased persons. The legislation seeks to allow personal representatives to take steps to close down online accounts that live on, often persistently, after a person has died. Legislators report that they have waited for social media companies to find a solution to the problem, but none has been provided. The legislation aims to assist family members with dealing with the loss of a loved one without having to constantly be reminded of the death.

Similar legislation has already been passed in Oklahoma. Some concerns have been raised about privacy especially in respect of third parties who had communicated with the deceased. However it seems reasonable to allow executors to deal with a deceased’s online material and accounts, in much the same way an executor can deal with a deceased’s mail and bank and other accounts.

It would be interesting to see how the issue is resolved in Canadian jurisdictions.

Click here to read the BBC story, “Living online after death faces Nebraska legal battle”

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