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When Your Death Goes Viral

The increasing frequency with which we live our lives online has resulted in changes to the way we conduct the business of dying. The intersection of death and the internet can be seen in many ways, from estate planning designed to address digital assets to passing on one’s values and morals through an online ethical will. Another way in which the two meet is the online obituary.

As Ruth Graham discusses in her article for Slate.com, the traditional short and sweet obituary in the local paper is giving way to the online obituary. An online obituary is freed from many of the constraints of the traditional obituary, and the author is able to share additional details and stories about life and death of their loved one. In addition to sharing information about a decedent’s life, an online obituary may also include information about the decedent’s passing that is unlikely to be included in a traditional obituary. For example, some families have shared stories about a loved one’s battles with addiction that ultimately led to a fatal overdose. Online obituaries can also be decidedly more lighthearted, with the author sharing funny stories, anecdotes, and words of wisdom. Sometimes the authors of an online obituary are the decedents themselves. Perhaps as a result of the wide latitude given to authors of online obituaries and their very personal subject matter, many of these obituaries have gone viral, providing an average person 15 minutes of fame from beyond the grave. 

Copyright Holland & Hart LLP 1995-2022.National Law Review, Volume V, Number 313
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About this Author

Morgan M. Wiener, Holland Hart, Fiduciary Litigation, Estate Planning lawyer
Associate

Ms. Wiener advises clients on variety of fiduciary and private client matters. In particular, Ms. Wiener focuses her practice on fiduciary litigation, estate planning, and trust and estate administration.

Ms. Wiener's clients include individual and corporate fiduciaries, beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors. She regularly represents her clients in both contested and uncontested trust, estate, and probate proceedings. In addition, she counsels clients on will contests, will and trust interpretation and modification, and spousal rights, as well as...

303-295-8271
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