Oklahoma Statute Gives Executor Power Over Decedent’s Online Accounts

Oklahoma Statutes § 58–269, which took effect November 1, 2010, gives the executor of an estate power over a decedent’s online accounts and purports to give new rights to continue a decedent’s online accounts:

§ 58–269. Executor or administrator—Powers.

The executor or administrator of an estate shall have the power, where otherwise authorized, to take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate any accounts of a deceased person on any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website or any e-mail service websites.

This new law may be useful for executors (personal representatives) of estates to use in gaining access to the contents of a decedent’s online accounts, because it shows the company holding the online account that the executor has authority to act on behalf of the decedent. This could be very helpful for online e–mail accounts, personal Web pages, blogs, Twitter, and social networking accounts like Facebook and MySpace.

However, as pointed out by Mark R. Gillett of the University of Oklahoma Law School in a December 1, 2010, article from NewsOK, this Oklahoma Statute does not change the Terms of Service for online accounts and the Oklahoma law does not create any new rights of property for the decedent or new rights under the contract with the company providing the online account that do not already exist. As mentioned on other postings at this blog, many online accounts provide in their Terms of Service that the online account terminates when a person dies, and this Oklahoma Statute purports to allow an executor to take control of and continue the decedent’s account after death.

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