The state of Delaware is the first in the US to pass a law giving relatives the right to inherit the digital assets of their deceased family members, reports the Daily Mail.
The new law will mean that digital assets, such as email, social media or online bank accounts, can be treated in the same way as physical assets, and left to beneficiaries through a will. However, this will only apply where the will itself comes under the jurisdiction of Delaware law.
The question of what happens to someone’s digital assets when they die has been the subject of some debate on this side of the Atlantic as well.
The Law Society recently broached the subject by highlighting research revealing that around 71% of people in Britain haven’t thought about what would happen to their digital legacy when they die.
It suggested that people should leave clear instructions about what should happen to their digital assets after their death. The Society also recommended that people compile a list of all online accounts, such as email, banking, investments and social networking sites, which will make it easier for family members to piece together the deceased’s digital legacy and follow their wishes.
Failure to put proper plans in place for a digital legacy could mean important or sentimental material – such as photographs on social networks – is never recovered, the Society warns.
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