Digital Assets and Fiduciaries

Research Handbook on Electronic Commerce Law, John A. Rothchild, ed., Edward Elger, 2016

GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2015-18

GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-18

24 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015

See all articles by Naomi Cahn

Naomi Cahn

University of Virginia School of Law

Christina L. Kunz

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Suzanne Brown Walsh

Murtha Cullina LLP

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

This chapter addresses the appropriate treatment of a person's digital life when the account holder can no longer manage it. As the Internet becomes an increasingly important presence in our daily lives, the law has a significant role to play in determining the management of digital assets upon the account holder's incapacity or death. In the past, people put hard copies of photos in albums, listened to record albums, and paid bills with a stamped envelope. Today, most people use the Internet to store photos, listen to music, and pay bills. Yet few people have considered how to dispose of their digital assets.

This chapter explores the legal issues for trusts, estates, conservatorships, and powers of attorney. It addresses the importance of fiduciaries being able to manage an account holder's digital assets, and the obstacles under federal and state law to a fiduciary assuming that role. Finally, it shows how the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides a solution to ensure effectuation of the account holder's intent.

Keywords: digital assets, fiduciaries, estate planning

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Cahn, Naomi R. and Kunz, Christina L. and Brown Walsh, Suzanne, Digital Assets and Fiduciaries (2016). Research Handbook on Electronic Commerce Law, John A. Rothchild, ed., Edward Elger, 2016, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2015-18, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2603398

Naomi R. Cahn (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Christina L. Kunz

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

Suzanne Brown Walsh

Murtha Cullina LLP ( email )

CityPlace I, 185 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103-3469
United States

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