Golden drafting bill to help executors access emails of deceased
A person who has died left behind a will designating a relative as the executor of his estate. But the deceased also did his banking and paid his bills online and never gave anyone his passwords. As a result, the executor of the will has no access to the business emails of the deceased and cannot fully perform his or her duties in the disposition of the will.
State Sen. Marty Golden said with more and more people conducting all of their business affairs online, the situation described above is becoming increasingly common.
Golden, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, said he is in the process of crafting legislation that would allow the email of a person who has died to be accessed by the executor of their estate.
The bill is currently undergoing final revisions before it is introduced in Albany. One of the revisions includes opening the bill to not only the executors of wills, but also to guardians of people who have been deemed mentally incompetent by the courts.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said he came up with the legislation because of growing concerns about online activities and their ability to hamper the role of estate executors. People who have been designated to settle an estate upon a person’s death often require information contained in e-mail messages and documents stored in email folders in order to carry out their duties, he said.
“As we continue to encourage people to go green and pay their bills on line, we must be cognizant of the fact that when a person passes away, many of their records are stored and managed through their email account. I look forward to working with my colleagues to create this important law in New York State. I believe this will assist in the difficult work of getting an estate’s affairs in order for we all realize that the despite one’s passing, e-mails of bills and statements do continue,” Golden said.
A legislative aide to Golden told the Brooklyn Eagle that the bill would apply only to business affairs and that the executor or guardian would not be able to access personal emails. “If the deceased person was on OKCupid, the executor wouldn’t be able to access that information,” the aide said.
Other states, including Delaware, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma and Connecticut, already have similar laws in place.
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