In today’s digital world, nearly everyone has some sort of digital property, whether it be a Facebook page or emails. This fact has presented probate courts with a very important question: who inherits this digital property?
What the Law Says
In spite of all of the advancements in technology, Federal law has yet to make clear who should get this fairly new type of valuable property when someone passes away. The only legislation on a Federal level that sets guidelines for management of digital assets is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The act was passed 30 years ago, and does not even take into account online information.
Several states have elected to put forth legislation to clear the matter up in probate court. Florida was one of them, enacting the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (Senate Bill No. 494) in April of this year. The bill gives the fiduciaries the power to manage digital property, as well as providing owners with a plan of action for how their digital assets will be managed after death. Additionally, it allows custodians of these assets the authority to work with the fiduciaries regarding digital property matters, in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
Digital Companies Follow Suit
In light of these new laws, companies like Facebook and Google have amended platforms to give users some control over their online presence (in the event that they are unable to do so), by selecting an individual to be permitted access to their accounts. Facebook created the “legacy contact” option, similar to Gmail’s “account trustee.” Both involve selecting a family member or friend who will be permitted access to the deceased’s accounts. It is an issue many do not often consider, but with the memories so many Americans keep online, it has become increasingly important for surviving friends and family.
Do you have questions about inheritance? A Miami probate attorney can help you understand the complexities of probate law and advise you of the best course of action for your situation. Call the team at Graham Legal today.