Digital inheritance raises legal questions

From CNN:

As more of our personal lives go digital, family members, estate attorneys and online service providers are increasingly grappling with what happens to those information bits when their owners die.

Sometimes, the question involves e-mail sitting on a distant server; other times, it’s about the photos or financial records stored on a password-protected computer.

This week, a Michigan man publicized his struggle to access the Yahoo e-mail account belonging to his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Justin M. Ellsworth, 20, who was killed November 13 in Iraq. Though Yahoo’s policies state that accounts “terminate upon your death,” John Ellsworth said his son would have wanted to give him access…

To release those messages in such circumstances, Yahoo said, would violate the privacy rights of the deceased and those with whom they’ve corresponded.

More here.