Question from chelc, What Legal Actions Can Be Taken If Shared Files on OneDrive Are Deleted After the Account Owner’s Death?
Answer from AI:
When a person shares files from their OneDrive account and subsequently passes away, the control of the account typically goes to their next of kin or the executor of their estate. If the new account holder deletes files that were previously shared, the shared access to those files will also be removed. This situation can be complex and may require legal advice.
Understanding Digital Assets and Inheritance
In the United States, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) governs access to digital assets, including files stored on cloud services like OneDrive, after the owner’s death. However, the law varies by state, and not all states have adopted RUFADAA.
Under RUFADAA, a person can give legal consent in their will, trust, power of attorney, or other record for a fiduciary to access their digital assets. If the deceased did not provide such consent, the service provider’s terms of service agreement will control access to the account.
Possible Legal Actions
If you find yourself in a situation where shared files have been deleted after the account owner’s death, you may consider the following steps:
- Consult with a legal professional: This situation can be complex and may require legal advice. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and possible legal actions based on your specific circumstances and the laws in your state.
- Request access from the service provider: Some service providers may grant access to digital assets if you can demonstrate a lawful right or interest. However, this is subject to the service provider’s terms of service and privacy policies.
- Legal action: If the files were deleted maliciously or in violation of the deceased’s wishes, you may be able to take legal action against the person who deleted the files. However, this would likely require evidence of the deceased’s intent and the value of the lost files.
To avoid such situations, it’s advisable to plan for digital assets in estate planning. This can include:
- Providing consent for a fiduciary to access digital assets in a will, trust, or power of attorney.
- Using a service provider’s tools for planning digital inheritance, if available.
- Keeping a secure record of digital assets and how to access them.
Remember, this information is general in nature and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. You can find more information about RUFADAA and digital assets on the Uniform Law Commission’s website.