August 21, 2014

Delaware gives executors access to digital assets

About time. Delaware becomes first state to give executors broad digital assets access   Meet the "Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act."

Delaware has become the first state in the US to enact a law that ensures families’ rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death.

Earlier this year, the Uniform Law Commission, a non-profit group that lobbies to enact model legislations across all jurisdictions in the United States, adopted its Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA). Delaware is the first state to take the UFADAA and turn it into a bona fide law.

“This problem is an example of something we see all the time in our high-tech age—our laws simply haven’t kept up with advancements in technology,” said Daryl Scott, in a statement last week. Scott is a member of the Delaware House of Representatives and the lead author of the bill. “By signing this bill into law, we’re helping to protect the rights and interests of the average person in the face of a rapidly evolving digital world."

Jim Halpert, an attorney with DLA Piper, and the director of the State Privacy and Security Coalition, an umbrella group that represents Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other firms, said that he opposes the new Delaware law.

"This law takes no account of minimizing intrusions into the privacy of third parties who communicated with the deceased," he said. "This would include highly confidential communications to decedents from third parties who are still alive—patients of deceased doctors, psychiatrists, and clergy, for example—who would be very surprised that an executor is reviewing the communications. The law may well create a lot of confusion and false expectations because, as the law itself acknowledges, federal law may prohibit disclosing contents of communications."
Posted by Jill Fallon at August 21, 2014 12:01 PM | Permalink