What are other jurisdictions doing to facilitate access to digital assets?

April 4, 2017 Nick Esterbauer Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Later this week, House Bill 432 will come into effect in Ohio to update state estate and trust administration law.  One of the most notable updates is the adoption of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, along with corresponding updates to Ohio’s Power of Attorney Act.

The American Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act is intended to formalize the authority of attorneys for property and estate trustees to obtain access to digital assets for deceased or incapable users.  Prior to its implementation in American states (and in other jurisdictions in which comparable legislation has not yet been introduced), the intervention of the courts has often been required to grant fiduciaries with access to information and assets stored electronically.  There continues to be some debate as to whether an attorney for property or estate trustee, authorized to administer tangible property, also has the authority to manage digital assets without legislation and/or terms of the Power of Attorney or Will explicitly extending this authority.

Interestingly, the Revised Uniform Act has been endorsed by Google and by Facebook, both platforms on which a great deal of the world’s digital assets are stored.  In 2016, 13 states introduced the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.  With the introduction or enactment of the Revised Act in another 24 states since the beginning of 2017 alone, it is clear that state legislatures and online service providers alike agree that amendments to the law in recognition of the growth of technology is required to clarify the state of the law of digital assets and fiduciaries.

The Uniform Law Conference of Canada introduced the Uniform Access to Digital Assets by Fiduciaries Act (2016) this past summer.  While the uniform acts of Canada and the United States share a number of similarities, there are several important distinctions, which will be highlighted in Thursday’s blog post.

Thank you for reading,

Nick Esterbauer

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