Digital Assets Bill Passes Through Virginia Legislature

It’s a thought no parent wants to contemplate – losing a child. Nevertheless, if this unfortunate and tragic incident occurs, you need to pick up the pieces and try to get your child’s estate in order. Fortunately, the Virginia Legislature took a step to make the process a little easier with the passage of HB 1752. This law affords parents of deceased minors access to their social media accounts.

The law enables a personal representative of a deceased minor to assume the deceased minor’s terms of service agreement for a digital account with an Internet service provider, communications service provider, or other online account service provider for the purposes of consenting to and obtaining the disclosure of the deceased minor’s communications and subscriber records, according to the Virginia Legislative Information System. The digital provider is obligated to provide access to the personal representative within 60 days from the receipt of a written request from the personal representative and a copy of the deceased minor’s death certificate.

The passage of this law is a testament to the work of Ricky Rash, who took up the issue after his son took his own life without any explanation, according to The Digital Beyond. Mr. Rash was left with more questions than answers. Now, he can gain access to his son’s Facebook account to try and obtain some answers as to what contributed to his son’s struggles.

I commend the Virginia Legislature for passing this important law. As an estate planning attorney, I have to think about the worst case scenarios for my clients and losing a child definitely falls under that category. Now, I can help my clients in obtaining access to their deceased child’s social media accounts to initiate shutting those accounts down and/or obtaining important records.

If you found this article interesting and/or helpful, check out my article on digital asset estate planning.