When people die, they leave all kinds of mementoes. For most of us, it’s manageable, if not emotionally trying to go through the photos, the old letters, the possessions and decide what goes to charity, gets inherited, gets tossed.
These days, that process is complicated by the existence of Facebook and Google+ pages, which compiles many possessions in a digital format. So far, laws cover how loved ones can manage the remaining physical objects left behind after a death. But what of the virtual ones?
Several states are trying to deal with that question now. Oklahoma was the first. That law allows friends and relatives — and most importantly, the executor of an estate — to get control of Facebook accounts (provided the deceased lived in the state). Nebraska is proposing a similar measure, and there is some preliminary work on it being done in Oregon. In New York there is a proposal to name a “digital executor” before you die.
Connecticut, Rhode Island and Indiana have laws that cover email and electronic files, but it’s far from clear whether those laws cover Facebok as well.