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Should online accounts die when you do?

Should online accounts die when you do?

DIGITAL AFTERLIFE: This file photo shows a printout of the Facebook page for Loren Williams, now deceased, at his mother's home in Beaverton, Ore. A group of influential lawyers says it has an answer to that pesky question of what should happen to your Facebook, Yahoo and other online accounts when you die. The Uniform Law Commission was expected on Wednesday to endorse a plan that would automatically give loved ones access to all digital accounts, unless otherwise specified in a will. The legislation would have to be adopted by individual state legislatures to become law. But if it does, the bill would make “death switches” popular tools in estate planning, allowing people to decide which accounts should die when they do. “This is something most people don’t think of until they are faced with it. They have no idea what is about to be lost,” said Karen Williams of Beaverton, Oregon, who sued Facebook for access to her 22-year-old son Loren’s account after he died in a 2005 motorcycle accident. Photo: Associated Press

ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Should your emails, Web albums and other online accounts die when you do? Or should you be able to pass them down to a family member much as you would a house or a box of letters?

A leading group of lawyers says that families should immediately get access to everything online unless otherwise specified in a will. They are urging state lawmakers to enact their proposal so loved ones don’t get shut out as American lives move increasingly online.

The Uniform Law Commission is made up of people appointed by state governments to help standardize state laws.

On Wednesday the commission endorsed the plan for giving loved ones access to — but not control of — the deceased’s digital accounts unless a will says otherwise.

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