Florida’s Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act
Florida was one of the first states to adopt a comprehensive “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.” This law covers not just situations where an authorized person–i.e., the personal representative of a probate estate–seeks to access data belonging to a deceased user, but also someone acting as a legal guardian for a minor or incapacitated adult, an agent acting under a power of attorney, or even the trustee of a living trust.
Under the act, a person may allow or prevent access to a digital asset by providing written instructions. If the guardian of the digital asset provides an online planning tool–as Apple plans to do–then any instructions left via said tool takes precedence. Otherwise, a court will look to any instructions left via a relevant estate planning document, such as a will, trust, or power of attorney. Absent any written instructions, the terms of service for the user’s account will control.
It is important to note that the Act generally applies only to those digital assets governed by a contract (terms of service) between the user and the custodian. For example, a fiduciary typically has no rights to access a digital asset controlled by the user’s employer, such as a work e-mail account. And a custodian is not required to grant unrestricted access to a deceased user’s account even with written instructions, as evidenced by Apple’s announcement that it would not grant fiduciaries access to password and payment information.
Speak with a Pompano Beach, Florida, Estate and Probate Litigation Attorney Today
The law continues to evolve with regard to accessing digital assets after a user’s death. If you are involved in the administration of a trust or estate and need legal advice on this or any related subject, contact Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation attorney Mark R. Manceri, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.