Delaware is the first state to enact a law authorizing fiduciary trustees to gain access to online accounts and other digital content of individuals who have died or become otherwise incapacitated. Although the bill is said to have met resistance from Internet account providers such as Google Inc. and Facebook, those involved in the legislation’s creation say it’s necessary to help loved ones wind down the deceased’s personal and legal affairs.
“This law shifts control back to a person’s family or loved ones in the event of incapacitation,” said state Rep. Darryl M. Scott, D-Dover, who sponsored the bill. “Important documents used to be stored in a shoebox or safety deposit box, but now they are kept online. Our laws didn’t keep up with that. Now we are treating digital and tangible assets in the same way. It all boils down to control.”
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