NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) -- Talking with your loved ones about death is an uncomfortable subject, but unfortunately if you're not prepared for it, your family could be left with digital drama.
North Attleboro widow Ashleigh Beland lost her husband six months ago. He was just 29 years old.
Ashleigh and her husband already had a will to ensure their son was taken care of.
One thing they never thought about was what to do with all of his social media accounts.
"He had a Yahoo account, three Gmail accounts, an AOL account, and then he had Facebook and Instagram", said Beland.
She didn't have passwords to any of them, and within days of her husband's death, his Facebook account was suddenly changed to a memorial page. Ashleigh says she's heartbroken she no longer has access to it.
"It helped me grieve. I can't get into his pictures, I can't get into any of that anymore," Beland said.
Property lawyers say online social providers are reluctant to give access to surviving family members. A Facebook spokesperson tells Eyewitness News that when an account is memorialized "it restricts the profile and associated content to Facebook friends that the deceased had while alive".
"From a business point of view, they may be concerned that not all users would want these intimate details of their lives to be exposed after death", said Professor Zoe Argento of Roger Williams University Law School.
Yahoo states that all accounts are non-transferable and they will delete an account when they receive a death certificate.
In April, Google announced the inactive account manager, which allows users to designate someone to view their accounts if they become inactive for any reason.
Estate lawyers recommend keeping a list of all your online accounts and passwords so that others have access if you pass away.
Rhode Island does have a law regarding digital assets but it only pertains to email access.
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