My Sister’s Facebook Keeper: How Delaware Is Changing the Landscape of Online Asset and Account Management

Author: Stephen Doyle, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review 

On August 12, 2014, Gov. Jack Markell signed the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act (FADADAA),[1] which will make Delaware the first state to permit heirs to inherit a decedent’s digital accounts or assets.[2] The law will become effective on January 1, 2015.[3] With increased technology use over the past decade, individuals have shifted from storing documents in physical locations to online accounts. Thus, this legislation provides many benefits for the decedent’s beneficiaries or any fiduciaries for the accounts, especially in the event of an unexpected death. However, the FADADAA poses potential privacy and contract issues, primarily for individuals and organizations not directly involved in the transfer of an asset under the law. Although it is too early to tell exactly what effects the Act will have, the advantages for beneficiaries and fiduciaries outweigh the negative implications the Act could have on third parties and consumer electronics companies.

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