Social media, a term that didn't event exist until the late 1990s, is now something that influences almost every teenager every day. Long gone are the days when teenagers' biggest influencers were MTV and "Seventeen" magazine.
Digital asset planning has been a hot topic in estate planning to enable the representative of an estate to gain access to online bank accounts and other online assets after a person's death. However, since so many social media users are teenagers, and teenage suicide has become an epidemic, the latest challenge for probate attorneys is obtaining access to a child's social media accounts after the child's death. Believe it or not, in some states, access to social media accounts is even restricted from a child's parent or guardian upon the child's death.
Accessing a child's social media account post mortem may not seem necessary, or may even be viewed as morbid. When unanswered questions exist behind the cause of death, however, often such questions may be answered by getting a closer look behind the "screens." Sometimes it can be very insightful to see a child's activity on social media before his or her death.
The American Bar Association recently published an article about this topic, "Digital Asset Planning for Minors," that is very informative. The article contains a wealth of information about the law and who is legally allowed to have access to a minor's social media accounts.
Internet laws in some states are actually different for minors under 13 than those who are under 18. A handful of states even allow a minor to execute a will and other estate planning documents. For more information about this topic, please read the full article here.