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Digital assets becoming a problem for Seattle residents

Losing a loved one is something we must all face in life. Whether it's a friend, family member or an admired idol, death is inevitable and can be very painful, if not torturous to countless Seattle residents. When our loved ones die, their assets are often distributed among close family members and friends through wills or trusts. But what happens to the deceased's digital property, such as their Facebook accounts? Many people are finding themselves in a bit of a legal gray area when it comes to accessing the deceased's digital assets.

As our culture advances, so does our technology. Social media accounts are becoming more popular than ever. There are over 1 billion Facebook accounts across the world and 250 million pictures are uploaded each day. With pictures, status updates and tweets, parts of these users are captured online. Many people seek comfort by browsing through a loved one's social media account after they die. But some people are finding this comfort being taken away.

Every minute, three Facebook users will die, leaving a dormant account inaccessible for loved ones to gain access to digital assets. As of now, there is no method for beneficiaries to gain access to a deceased's digital assets. Companies like Facebook prohibit others from gaining access to a dead person's profile. According to the U.S. federal law, sharing a person's digital information is prohibited, even if it is stipulated in their last will and testament. What can be done to get back these digital assets that many find comfort in?

The first step is to make a case. The more Seattle residents filing claims, the more likely a law will pass to allow the distribution of digital assets. There are already five states in the United States that have passed laws to allow some degree of accessing digital assets - Washington can be next.

Source: CBC News, "Facebook digital assets hard to reach from beyond the grave," Andy Macdonald, March 1, 2013

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