July 16, 2014 — A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital assets. The UniformFiduciaryAccesstoDigitalAssetsAct (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.
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 ULC, now in its 123rd year, comprises more than 350 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states.
After receiving the ULC’s seal of approval, a uniform act is officially promulgated for consideration by the states, and legislatures are urged to adopt it. Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.