OK Law Addresses Virtual Estates

If you are planning your last will and testament in the state of Oklahoma, you now have to worry about what to do with your virtual belongings. According to a report in the IB Times (thanks EZK), a new state law in Oklahoma gives estate executors and administrators the power to "access, administer, or terminate" social media and online accounts.

According to former state Rep. Ryan Kiesel (D-Seminole), a co-author of House Bill 2800 (before he left office), the law is meant to remind people that, when they are planning what happens to their real-world estate, they should probably figure out what they want done with their virtual stuff as well.

"The number of people who use Facebook today is almost equal to the population of the United States," said Kiesel. "When a person dies, someone needs to have legal access to their accounts to wrap up any unfinished business, close out the account if necessary or carry out specific instructions the deceased left in their will."

"Digital photo albums and e-mails are increasingly replacing their physical counterparts, and I encourage Oklahomans to think carefully about what they want to happen to these items when they pass away," he added.

The bill became the law of the land on November 1. The bill assumes ownership of social media accounts belong to the person that created them, but many sites like Facebook claim ownership via service agreements users sign off on when they sign up.

Kiesel has acknowledged that the law "may conflict" with those service agreements, but said that it is intended to "get people thinking about" taking care of all of their business before they pass on to the other side.

While not emphatically stated, the law could have jurisdiction over other types of online content such as Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, MMO accounts, etc. – and all the content within.

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