United States: Legislative Proposals and Studies

Legislative Proposals

The following is a list of the most recent Bills introduced across US states.  In many states Bills may run in parallel in the House/Assembly and Senate.  Where this occurs details of each Bill is provided with House/Assembly/Senate reference details and links to the proposed text.

State Status Scope of the Law Proposed Powers Bill References
California Judiciary Committee e-mail account or to copies of the content of the account Request access to SB 849 (2014)
Maryland Unfavourable report (18 Feb 2013) An account of the decedent on a social networking Web site, microblogging or short message service Web site, or electronic mail service Web site To take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate SB 29 (2013)
Massachusetts Committee on House Ways and Means E-mail account -and- shall not apply to accounts “created, administered, or hosted by an employer for an employee and intended to be used for professional purposes Gain reasonable access to the contents of an electronic mail account of a deceased person SB 702 (2013)
HB 4243 (2014)
Michigan Judiciary Committee (no update) Any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website or any electronic mail service website Take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate SB 293 (2013)
Nebraska Judiciary Committee (no update) Any account of a deceased person on any social networking web site, microblogging or short message service web site, or email service web site Take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate LB 37 (2013)
New Hampshire Judiciary Committee (sponsor to report) Any accounts of a deceased person on any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website, or any e-mail service website Take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate HB 116 (2013)
New Jersey Senate Commerce Committee Any accounts of a deceased person on any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website or any e-mail service websites To take control of, conduct, continue or terminate A 2943 (2012)
S 2077 (2012)
New York Judiciary Committee (no update) Digital property meaning the ownership and management of and rights related to a digital account and digital asset Gain access and exercise control over digital property to the extent permitted under applicable law and any terms of service agreement A 6729 (2013)
S 4895 (2013)
Judiciary Committee (no update) Any accounts of the decedent on any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website or and email service website Take control of, conduct, continue or terminate A 6043 (2013)
S 6532 (2013)
North Carolina Digital Remains elements removed from Bill Digital assets and digital accounts.  Definitions are in line with proposals made  by Evan Carroll see blog post. To access, take control of, handle, conduct, continue, distribute, dispose of, or terminate SB 279 (2013)
North Dakota Failed to Pass An account of a decedent on any social networking website, microblogging or short message service website, or e-mail service website, except for any copyrighted material that may be hosted on a file sharing hosting site Take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate HB 1455 (2013)
Oregon Judiciary Committee (no update) Any digital assets and digital accounts of the decedent.  Digital accounts includes, but is not limited to, electronic mail, financial, personal other online accounts. Access, take control of, possess, handle, conduct, continue, distribute, dispose of or terminate SB 54 (2013)
Pennsylvania Judiciary Committee (no update) An account of the decedent with a social networking website, microblogging or short message service website or e-mail service website Take control of, conduct, continue or terminate HB 2580 (2012)

 

Studies

A number of State Legislatures and Bar Associations have initiated studies to explore the need for legislative intervention.   Details of the proposed studies are set out in the table below.

State Status Scope of the study References
Colorado Study The Trust & Estate Section of the Colorado Bar Association is exploring proposing legislation to address digital assets and accounts (reported on blog November 2012).
Connecticut Study To require the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee to study issues relating to the ability of an executor or administrator of an estate to access electronic accounts maintained by the decedent and to distribute the proceeds of electronic financial accounts maintained by the decedent. HB 5227 (2013)
Florida Study The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar have established a Digital Assets and Information Study Committee: to study and identify issues and problems associated with access to and the disposition of digital assets and information under the following situations: inter vivos (the rights and obligations of agents of durable powers of attorney, guardians, and trustees of inter vivos trusts, for example); and, following death (the rights and obligations of personal representatives and testamentary trustees, for example).
Maine Study: 15 Dec 2014 The Probate and Trust Law Advisory Commission shall conduct a review of the legal impediments to the disposition of digital assets upon an individual’s death or incapacity and develop legislative recommendations based on the review.  Originally proposed in LD 850 (2013).  Due to report before 15 December 2014. LD 1742 (2014)

 

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Similar lists of legislative interventions are available from:

Pew Research Center blog post by Maeve Duggan (6 May 2014)

James Lamm at his blog Digital Passing (last updated 30 August 2013)

Everplans:  state-by-state digital estate planning laws (no last revised date)

The Digital Beyond blog maintained by Evan Carroll (no last revised date)

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Last updated: 16 October 2014

 

 

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