New Jersey Enacts Digital Fiduciary Act
- On October 12, 2017
The Legislature has adopted, and the Governor has signed into law, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA). Prior to the enactment of the UFADAA, the law was fuzzy as to who was entitled to digital assets of a decedent or a disabled individual. In the absence of the Act, the digital company controlling an account would determine access to the digital assets. With the adoption of the UFADAA, the traditional type of fiduciary power normally given to an executor, administrator or an agent under a power of attorney has been extended to include the management of digital assets.
The Act defines digital assets as a person’s digital property and electronic communications. This would extend to financial accounts, however, it does not extend to accounts that a decedent or a disabled individual might have through an employer as an employee. It allows fiduciaries to manage digital property, but restricts the fiduciary’s access to electronic communications such as email, text messages and social media accounts, unless the original user consented to additional access by will, trust, power of attorney or other record.
If one has extensive digital assets that need to be managed, it may be necessary for that individual to update their power of attorney or will to include such access. Of course, the fiduciary will have to provide a copy of the authorizing document to assure the custodian of the digital assets that they have been granted access.
Author: Robert F. Muñoz