Fiduciary access to digital assets advances

Lawmakers advanced a bill April 4 that would determine who has access to a person’s digital assets after death.

Introduced by Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, LB829 would authorize four types of fiduciaries—executors of estates, conservators of estates, agents appointed under power of attorney and trustees—to access a person’s digital assets after they die or otherwise lose the ability to manage their own assets.

The bill would create a tiered system of priorities for handling digital assets. If the custodian—the company that stores a person’s assets on its servers—provides an online tool allowing the user to authorize another person to have access to the assets, those instructions would take priority.

If no such tool is available or the user chooses not to use it, a will, trust, power of attorney or other written record would be enforced. The custodian’s terms of service would determine access if neither an online tool nor a legal document applies. If none of those situations apply, the bill provides default terms that would govern access.

A Judiciary Committee amendment, adopted 27-0, clarified that a person could use an online tool to give digital access privileges to a recipient who is not a fiduciary.

Harr said the bill would give people the power to authorize fiduciaries to manage digital assets, such as photos stored online or the data on a social media profile, in the same way they could authorize them to manage tangible property.

Senators voted 29-0 to advance the bill to select file.

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