For estate administrators and grieving families, Facebook has become one of the more notorious technology companies to deal with.
When someone passes away, Facebook turns their Facebook Page into a memorial on which friends and family are allowed to post messages. However, Facebook refuses to allow anyone access to account login information, so something else can be done with the page.
In 2012, a German woman sued to gain access to her daughter's Facebook page. The daughter had died at the age of 15, after being hit by a train.
The mother wanted to access the Facebook account to look for signs of depression, so she could see if her daughter had committed suicide and stepped in front of the train on purpose.
Facebook declined the request, according to The Hill in "German court rejects mother's request to access deceased daughter's Facebook."
A lower German court had previously ruled that the mother should be given access, since under the inheritance law the mother inherited the page from her daughter. However, an appellate court has ruled against the mother, stating that the daughter's right to privacy takes priority over the mother's inheritance rights.
This ruling has no effect in the U.S. However, it is important to show the lengths Facebook will go to block family members from accessing the accounts of the deceased.
Some states have attempted to address this problem, but there is still a long way to go.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your estate plans or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
For more information about estate planning, probate or trust administration in Cincinnati (and throughout the rest of Southwest Ohio) and to review free resources regarding estate planning, probate or trust administration, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or a particular legal matter, feel free to contact me at 513-399-PLAN (7526).
Reference: The Hill (May 31, 2017) "German court rejects mother's request to access deceased daughter's Facebook."