The Revised Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, otherwise known as RUFADAA, is a law meant to help fiduciaries (executors, trustees, and agents working with a Power of Attorney) manage the digital assets of an incapacitated or deceased person. This act allows fiduciaries to access digital accounts and manage any issues that come up, while also providing a certain amount of privacy to the owner of the account and protection from legal liabilities for the businesses that provide the digital assets.
RUFADAA came about as a way to address the growing need of fiduciaries to manage the digital assets that most people own, including online accounts to pay bills and utilities, social media accounts, and even online subscription services.
Since this area of the law is still fairly new, there were many questions about who had a legal right to access someone else’s digital assets in the event of death or incapacitation. In addition, since virtually every online account is at the very least password-protected, there were significant obstacles for fiduciaries to overcome when accessing and managing these accounts.
An original version of the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act was drafted in 2014, but was met with opposition from many technology and privacy groups who claimed the act allowed fiduciaries to access accounts in ways the owners may never have wanted, as well as raising questions about liabilities for the purveyors of the digital asset services.
Since then, the law has been revised to narrow down the actual authority of the fiduciary over the digital assets. New provisions were included such as explicit consent given by a deceased or incapacitated person beforehand, an explanation from the fiduciary to the probate court about why access to a particular asset is needed, and the ability for service providers to limit their compliance to only “reasonably necessary” assets needed to close an estate.
Most states are expected to enact RUFADAA, but the best way to avoid any issues concerning your digital assets is to make a plan with your expected fiduciaries about how you want your assets handled. A letter or note with information pertaining to your digital assets is usually the best way to make your wishes known to your fiduciary.
If you would like to get more information about Revised Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act please contact our office at 877-653-3450 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.