Terms of service agreements and privacy policies govern access to social media and email accounts, and most expire when a user dies and are not transferable. Surviving family members are unable to access social media accounts or valuable digital assets, since most state laws that govern the actions of personal representatives or executors were enacted before email and social media became widespread and do not account for digital property.
However, at least 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted laws addressing access to email, social media accounts, microblogging or other website accounts, or other electronically stored assets, upon a person’s incapacity or death. Of the 48 states, 45 have adopted either the Uniform Law Commission's (ULC) Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) (2014) or the revised version of UFADAA--the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Revised (2015).
2020 Summary: Bills related to digital assets/electronic assets of decedents were introduced in at least 11 states and D.C. Legislation was enacted in Kentucky.
2019 Summary: Bills related to digital assets/electronic assets of decedents have been introduced in at least nine states and D.C. in 2019. New Hampshier and Rhode Island enacted laws.
2018 Summary: Bills related to digital assets/electronic assets of decedents were introduced in at least 15 states and D.C. Legislation was enacted in at least four states in 2018: Georgia, Maine, Missouri, and West Virginia; and the Virgin Islands.
2017 Summary: Bills related to digital assets/electronic assets were introduced in at least 30 states. Legislation was enacted in at least 17 states in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.
2016 Summary: Bills were introduced in 30 states. Legislation was enacted in at least 10 states: Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
2015 Summary: Bills were introduced in at least 32 states. Legislation was enacted in Virginia.
NOTE: NCSL provides links to other websites for information purposes only. Providing these links does not necessarily indicate NCSL's support or endorsement of the site.