State-by-State Digital Estate Planning Laws

Though most Americans have a substantial amount of "digital property" or "digital assets" (such as email accounts, social media accounts, and blogs), federal legislation regarding digital property does not yet exist. Most states rely on the particular terms of service or privacy policy of the service that manages the asset (such as Gmail, Facebook, or Tumblr) to determine what should be done with the particular asset when the owner dies.

That said, some states have stepped in to create laws that will protect people's digital assets and give the person's family the right to access and manage those accounts after the owner has died. If your state is not listed below, that means that your state has not yet passed laws to address these issues. As always, it's a good idea to consult a licensed estate attorney in your state to get a better sense of your state's laws, and how you can create a digital estate plan in your state.

Alabama

No legislation.

Alaska

No legislation.

Arizona

No legislation.

Arkansas

No legislation.

California

No legislation.

Colorado

No legislation.

Connecticut

Law: SB 262 Public Act No. 05-136
Description: Executors may access email accounts. The state requires a death certificate and documentation of the executor’s appointment before the estate’s representative can see the deceased person’s emails or social networking accounts.
Status: Effective October 1, 2005

Delaware

No legislation.

District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

No legislation.

Florida

No legislation.

Georgia

No legislation.

Hawaii

No legislation.

Idaho

Law: SB 1044
Description: Executors may access email accounts, social networking accounts, blogging and micro-blogging accounts, and short message services (text messages). A will or court order can restrict access to accounts.
Status: Effective July 1, 2011

Illinois

No legislation.

Indiana

Law: Indiana Code 29-1-13 (SB 0212, 2007)
Description: Executors may access email accounts, social networking accounts, blogging and micro-blogging accounts, and short message services (text messages). The state requires a death certificate and documentation of the executor’s appointment before the estate’s representative can see the deceased person’s emails or social networking accounts.
Status: Effective July 1, 2007

Iowa

No legislation.

Kansas

No legislation.

Kentucky

No legislation.

Louisiana

No legislation.

Maine

Proposed law: LD 850 (HP 601)
Description: To Study the Issue of Inheritance of Digital Assets
Date introduced: March 5, 2013
Status: Passed May 21, 2013
Note: LD 850 (HP 601) is not a law governing estate administration. LD 850 (HP 601) is to study the issues involved in digital assets. To see the full text of the proposal, click here.

Maryland

Proposed law: SB 0029: Estates and Trusts - Personal Representative - Administration of Internet-Based Accounts
Description: Authorizing a personal representative to take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate an account of a decedent on a social networking Web site, micro-blogging or short message service website, or electronic mail service website.
Date introduced: September 14, 2012
Status: Received Unfavorable Report by Judicial Proceedings on February 18, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Maryland law

Massachusetts

No legislation.

Michigan

Proposed law: HB 5929
Description: Probate; wills and estates; personal representative; give power to control the online mail, social media, and similar accounts of the deceased. Amends 1998 PA 386 (MCL 700.1101 - 700.8206) by adding sec. 3723.
Date introduced: September 20, 2012
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Michigan law

Minnesota

No legislation.

Mississippi

No legislation.

Missouri

No legislation.

Montana

No legislation.

Nebraska

Proposed law: LB 783
Description: This bill provides the personal representative of a deceased individual the power to take control of or terminate any accounts or message services that are considered digital assets. The power can be limited by will or court order.
Date introduced: January 5, 2012
Status: Indefinitely postponed as of April 18, 2012
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Nebraska law

Nevada

Law: SB 131
Description: Establishes provisions governing the termination of a decedent's accounts on electronic mail, social networking, messaging and other web-based services.
Date introduced: February 18, 2013
Status: Approved June 1, 2013. Effective October 1, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the Nevada law

New Hampshire

Proposed law: HB 0116
Description: An act relative to the powers of an executor or administrator to take control of a decedent’s social networking websites.
Date introduced: January 3, 2013
Status: Tabled as of January 30, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed New Hampshire law

New Jersey

Proposed law: A2943
Description: Authorizes executor or administrator to take control of online accounts of deceased person.
Date introduced: May 14, 2012
Status: Passed by the Assembly June 21, 2012. Received in the Senate, Referred to Senate Commerce Committee June 25, 2012
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed New Jersey law

New Mexico

No legislation.

New York

Proposed law: A823-2013
Description: Provides access to a decedent's electronic mail, social networking and/or micro-blogging accounts to the executor or administrator of the decedent's estate
Date introduced: January 9, 2013
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed New York law

North Carolina

Law: SB 279 - S.L. 2013-91
Description: To access, take control of, handle, conduct, continue, distribute, dispose of, or terminate any digital assets, as defined in G.S. 28A-13-11(d)(3), and digital accounts, as defined in G.S. 28A-13-11(d)(2), owned by the decedent at death.
Date introduced: March 12, 2013
Status: The proposal for digital accounts was removed from the final version of the law, which was signed by the Governor on June 12, 2013.
Full text: Click here for full text of the North Carolina law

North Dakota

Proposed law: HB 1455
Description: A bill for an act to create and enact a new chapter to title 34 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to internet accounts and workplace privacy of social media accounts.
Date introduced: January 21, 2013
Status: Failed April 9, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the North Dakota law

Ohio

No legislation.

Oklahoma

Name of law: HB 2800
Description: An act relating to probate procedure; authorizing an executor or administrator to have control of certain social networking, micro-blogging or e-mail accounts of the deceased; providing for codification; and providing an effective date. Allows provisions in a will or a formal order to control access.
Status: Effective November 1, 2010
Full text of law: Click here for full text of the Oklahoma law

Oregon

Proposed law: SB 54
Description: Defines "digital accounts" and "digital assets" for purposes of administration of estates and trusts. Requires custodian of digital accounts and digital assets to transfer, deliver or provide access to accounts or electronic copies of assets to personal representative, conservator or settlor upon written request.
Date introduced: January 14, 2013
Status: In Senate Committee
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Oregon law

Pennsylvania

Proposed law: HB 2580
Description: An act amending Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in administration and personal representatives, providing for power over decedent account on social networking website, micro-blogging or short message service website or e-mail service website.
Date introduced: August 23, 2012
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Pennsylvania law

Rhode Island

Law: Title 33: Probate practice and procedure, Chapter 33-27: Access to Decedents' Electronic Mail Accounts Act, Section 33-27-3
Description: Executors may access email accounts. The state may require a death certificate and documentation of the executor’s appointment before the estate’s representative can see the deceased person’s emails or social networking accounts.
Status: Effective May 1, 2007

South Carolina

No legislation.

South Dakota

No legislation.

Tennessee

No legislation.

Texas

No legislation.

Utah

No legislation.

Vermont

No legislation.

Virginia

Proposed law: SB 914
Description: Fiduciary access to digital assets. Enables a fiduciary to gain access to the digital accounts and digital assets of the person or estate to whom he owes a fiduciary duty upon making a written request to the custodian of the digital accounts and digitals assets and submitting proof of the fiduciary relationship.
Date introduced: January 7, 2013
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Virginia law

Washington

No legislation.

West Virginia

No legislation.

Wisconsin

No legislation.

Wyoming

No legislation.

Digital estate planing and digital asset legislation is developing and changing very quickly. Though we make every effort to keep this list as up-to-date as possible, there may be information that is not current. Always consult a licensed estate attorney in your state to learn more about your state's laws.