A series of legislative bills (House Bills 5366-5370) are pending in the Michigan House of Representatives. The purpose of the proposed bills is to grant fiduciaries such as executors, conservators, trustees and agents under durable powers of attorney additional access to “digital assets” held by an individual, decedent, or trust.
The proposed Michigan Act incorporates provisions that are similar to the ones contained in the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, introduced by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
The Act, when passed, would require the custodians of digital property to provide a fiduciary with the requested access, ownership or a copy of the digital property of the decedent following a written request within 56 days. These laws would help fiduciaries obtain and maintain financial information, photographs, social media pages, etc. of loved ones and would prevent the digital custodian from withholding access. A “digital asset” is defined as “electronic information created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means on a digital service or digital device. Digital account includes a user name, word, character, code or contract right under a terms-of-service Agreement.”
Please discuss the ownership and transfer of digital assets with your estate planner.
By Jeffrey D. Moss, Member, Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler