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21
June
2016

Digital Assets

Dylan Saul

When did you last check your Facebook page? Your LinkedIn? How about your online bank account? Clearly, these electronic services – these digital assets – have become part of our daily lives. But we rarely stop to think about what happens to these accounts once we pass away.

Consider the example of Chicagoan Eva Kripke, who attempted to access her deceased husband’s online bank account in 2011. Although she was duly named as his attorney-in-fact, and even though she produced her husband’s Social Security number, the bank would not permit her to access the account, all because her husband had failed to leave her the password.

Also in 2011, the parents of Virginian teenager Eric Rash attempted to access their deceased son’s social media accounts. Although Facebook memorializes accounts of the deceased, and accounts can be terminated at the request of a verified family member, Facebook’s privacy policy prevents it from disclosing login information to even the closest relations of users who have passed away, until the estate is entirely settled.

These stories demonstrate that law is constantly playing catch-up to technology, which will only continue advancing at a quicker and quicker pace. Minnesota joined the many states addressing this problem by adopting the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digit Assets Act (UFADAA) in May 2016. As its name implies, UFADAA gives fiduciaries access to those digital assets which are necessary to carry out their duties, and will apply to all governing documents in Minnesota executed before, on, or after the act officially goes into effect on August 1, 2016.

We encourage our clients to think carefully about their digital assets when deciding whether to give fiduciaries full, partial, or no access to their online accounts. It is our standard practice to include digital assets provisions in all Powers of Attorney, Wills, and Trust Agreements, so that those closest to you may access, manage, and terminate your accounts in accordance with your wishes. It is crucial to protect and pass on not just your tangible assets, but the immense value of your data stored in the cloud.


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Sanford, Pierson, Thone & Strean, PLC
1905 East Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 220
Wayzata, MN  55391


Phone: (952) 404-2100
Fax: (952) 404-2111
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