There is much talk lately of how to deal with email, facebook, twitter accounts, et cetera of people who pass away. For those of us who have friends or family who passed away and see their facebook account send a reminder to all of their friends on their birthday or some other event, it is nothing short of strange, even ery to see their former friend live into perpetuity in the digital realm. Many people use it as an opportunity to post memories and give a public shout out to the living that their friend or family is still alive in their heart. Others find the matter to be a painful memory.
Facebook instituted a policy whereby a legacy contact can delete your account or transition the account to a memorialized account, whereby your name will be changed to a remembered account (more properly a “remembering account“). Currently, New York does not allow an executor, or anyone else for that matter, to access the emails, online drives and various other digital accounts owned by a person after they pass away. If it was private while the person was alive, shouldn’t it be alive after they pass away? Yet, this is a rapidly evolving area of the law, with private corporations creating their own rules in the absence of legislative pronouncements to the contrary. In the 2012-2013 legislative session, Representative M. Kearns introduced a bill that would address the issue of access to such accounts by an executor.