Friday, May 24, 2013
Chelsea Ray (J.D. 2013, Oregon), Til Death Do Us Part: A Proposal for Handling Digital Assets After Death, 47 Real Prop. Tr. & Est. L.J. 583 (2013) (First Place, 2012 Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section Student Writing Competition):
As electronic communication continues to pervade the daily lives of modern individuals and allow us to instantaneously develop and document intellectual property, this Article questions whether states are prepared to protect these digital assets after owners' deaths. Specifically, it discusses whether state legislatures should follow Idaho, Rhode Island, Indiana, Connecticut, and Oklahoma in enacting legislation that protects decedents from identity theft and provides personal representatives with the ability to access decedent online accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and blogs to identify and dispose of valuable digital property. After analyzing the key problems faced by personal representatives, this Article concludes that legislatures should address issues in this field as soon as practicable and provides a draft uniform act to help direct lawmakers in addressing the complications associated with identifying and disposing of digital assets. Further, until legislatures enact solutions, the author urges that individuals leave specific instructions for the disposal of their digital assets.