*UPDATE: We’ve learned Senate Bill 102 died on calendar on May 1. As this is a very important piece of legislation, which insulates your fiduciaries from privacy law violations amongst other benefits, we encourage you to contact your senator or state representative and ask that they vote for this Bill next session.
In our April 2 newsletter, we discussed how Facebook made some needed changes to its user agreement, which now gives a “Legacy Contact” limited access to your Facebook account after your death. We also discussed the need for a legislative fix in Florida, so that similar accessibility might extend to digital assets held by other companies. Great news! The Florida legislature has introduced Senate Bill 102 (the “Bill”), which proposes to adopt the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.
Just as others states now allow, the Bill will give your fiduciaries (including the personal representative of your estate) the ability to access your digital assets after your death, as if they were you. The Bill expressly states that your fiduciaries are authorized users of your account, which exempts them from criminal laws that would otherwise prohibit their unauthorized access to your electronic accounts.
The Bill also insulates your fiduciaries from privacy law violations. Current privacy laws prohibit certain companies, such as email service providers, from disclosing your account records without your consent. However, the Bill deems your fiduciaries as having received your consent, so their access of your information after your death is not a violation of these privacy laws.
All-in-all, Senate Bill 102 seems to answer the substantial challenges fiduciaries face when trying to identify, locate, or access online accounts and other digital assets after a loved one’s death. As the time of this newsletter’s writing, the bill has been reported favorably by the Senate Rules Committee and is on track for passage. The legislative fix is slated to take effect July 1, 2015. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!