Governor Branstad signed Senate File 333, the Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, on April 20.
This bill is an important tool in estate planning and trust and estate administration. Prior to passage of this Act, it was difficult for fiduciaries (such as an individual’s agent under a power of attorney, conservator, trustee, or personal representative of an individual’s estate), to easily access the individual’s digital assets. In order to access a digital asset, the fiduciary had to rely on the service provider to grant access.
You might have seen stories of this hardship in the news -- an adult child is in a coma following a car accident, and his parents want to access his Facebook account to update his friends, but Facebook refuses to grant access. Or, following the death of a loved one, the family wants access to social media or email accounts to deactivate the account, or save information from the account.
More and more of our lives are online now, including photos and videos. Without access to these online accounts, these sentimental and historic items may be lost.
This Act allows individuals to give their fiduciaries the authority to gain access to their digital assets including accounts, information, media, and electronically stored documents, whether on a personal computer, tablet, cell phone, or in the cloud. It also provides a legal means to pass them along to their heirs in accordance with their wishes.
Attorneys assisting clients with wills and trusts applaud the signing of this bill to make it easier for their clients to know that their digital assets will be taken care of in the same way that their physical assets will be.