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Access to Digital Accounts After Death Varies State to State

Pew - Proposed law would clarify who gets access to a deceased person’s digital accounts

“The Uniform Law Commission, a body of lawyers who produce uniform legislation for states to adopt, recently drafted the “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADA).” It would grant fiduciaries (a catch-all term for the various types of people who can be legally appointed to hold assets) broad authority to access and control digital assets and accounts. FADA is considered by many attorneys to be an improvement over existing law because it would clarify and expand who can access a deceased person’s online accounts. The proposal would create four categories of fiduciaries who would be able to take over these accounts in the event of a death: a personal representative of a deceased person’s estate; someone carrying out a power-of-attorney; a trustee of a trust; or someone appointed by a court to act on behalf of a protected person. Existing laws typically only apply to personal representatives. The Commission will vote on the proposed law in July. But two issues still remain. The first revolves around “media neutrality,” the idea that the treatment of assets should be the same regardless of whether they are digital or physical. The proposal would require certain fiduciaries to obtain access to digital assets, while it would be automatic for others.”

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