Managing Your Digital Inheritance

Why is digital estate planning important?

Did you know that 30 million accounts on Facebook belong to the deceased?

It is very easy to sign up for a social network or set up an email account nowadays, but it turns out to be quite troublesome to close one, as each service has different requirements and complex processes to close or memorialise accounts.

As a result, many deceased persons’ accounts remain active, which makes them susceptible to hackers and identity thieves. The mourning friends and family members continue to receive birthday notifications, updates and other people can post on their accounts, leading to emotional distress.

Making sure your digital estate is handled correctly after your death will save your loved ones time and money after you are gone.

The importance of digital asset planning explained

Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved

New Act on Access to Digital Assets Approved

July 16, 2014 — A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital assets.  The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) at its 123rd Annual Meeting in Seattle.

In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones.  Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets.  Photographs are uploaded to web sites rather than printed on paper.  However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.”  If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset.  UFADAA governs four common types of fiduciaries: personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate; guardians or conservators of a protected person’s estate; agents under a power of attorney; and trustees.

UFADAA defers to an account holder’s privacy choices as expressed in a document (such as a will or trust), or online by an affirmative act separate from the general terms-of-service agreement.  Therefore, an account holder’s desire to keep certain assets private will be honored under UFADAA.

“I want to thank all of the dedicated lawyers and advocates who worked for the past two years to produce this model legislation,” said Committee Chair Suzanne Walsh.  “We finally have a way to ensure that fiduciaries can carry out their duties in the digital age, and I look forward to working with them for enactment in the states.”

The drafting committee on the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act was chaired by Suzanne Walsh of West Hartford, Connecticut.  Other committee members included:  David D. Biklen, West Hartford, Connecticut; Stephen Y. Chow, Boston, Massachusetts; Vincent C. DeLiberato, Jr., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Marc S. Feinstein, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Gene H. Hennig, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Stanley C. Kent, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Susan Kelly Nichols, Raleigh, North Carolina; Daniel Robbins, Sherman Oaks, California; and Lane Shetterly, Dallas, Oregon.  Naomi Cahn of Washington, DC, served as the committee’s reporter.

Other acts approved today by the ULC at its 2014 Annual Meeting are:  the Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision Making Documents Act, Amendments to the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act, and Amendments to Section 3-116 of the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act.

Other drafts which were debated at the ULC annual meeting, but which were not scheduled for final approval, include the Home Foreclosure Procedures Act, the Revision to the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, the Model Act on Commercial Real Estate Receiverships Act, Amendments to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, the Family Law Arbitration Act, the Recognition and Enforcement of Canadian Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act, the Series of Unincorporated Business Entities Act, and the Trust Decanting Act.

The current drafts of all of these acts can be found at the ULC’s website at