If you are savvy enough to be online reading this blog, you most likely have a Facebook profile. Also, you are probably wondering what on earth Facebook has to do with probate. In most states, the answer to that question is still “nothing,” but that is no longer the case in Oklahoma.
In 2010, Oklahoma legislators passed a law that gives executors (called Personal Representatives in Florida) control over accounts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that were registered to the decedent. The idea is that the executor will be able to access, clean up or even shut down each account, according to his or her own judgment or instructions left behind by the account owner, if any.
It is easy to see the logic behind Oklahoma’s social media law; for many people, Facebook has become a virtual scrapbook full of photos, notes from friends, and family trees. It makes sense that the loved ones left behind would want to access and preserve these memories. It is equally clear that the creator of such a detailed profile might have an opinion as to who should access their personal information after their death.
The idea of social media profiles as estate assets is beginning to catch on in other states as well; Nebraska is already developing a law similar to Oklahoma’s and Oregon may be close behind. In states without such laws, your digital accounts and passwords should definitely be included in your overall estate planning.
If you have concerns about securing your virtual assets or any other aspect of estate planning, please feel free to contact us.