Michigan Defines Who Owns Digital Assets After Death

Facebook posts, email messages, pictures, eBooks and digital music of people who died could be accessed by a person designated in a will under legislation that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed.

The new law specifically states that all digital assets are bequeathed from one person to the next. It also allows digital information, including social media and website accounts, to be treated like other assets after the owner dies.

The full text of Bill Number 5034 may be found at https://www.scribd.com/doc/306376380/Bill-No-5034.

The legislation obviously only applies to the probate actions in Michigan. 19 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. A full list of the states that define disposition of digital assets may be found in the Everplans web site at: https://www.everplans.com/articles/state-by-state-digital-estate-planning-laws.

NOTE: The Everplans information has not yet been updated with information about changes made by Michigan’s Bill Number 5034 that was signed this week.


Thank goodness these steps are being taken. When our 23-year-old son died unexpectedly in 2006, several of his friends told us we should see what had been written on his Facebook wall. In those days there was not as much interaction between the generations on Facebook and we had never “friended” him. We tried unsuccessfully to be allowed to see these Facebook memorials and I am truly sorry that we were never able to see how well loved he was in that venue.


One would have thought all intellectual property was protected by current copyright laws.


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