NEWS: Alaska Legislature Votes to Improve Access to Digital Assets
Existing Law Prevents Effective Management of Digital Estates
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2017
Juneau – Today, the Alaska Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation which updates Alaska’s probate laws to improve fiduciary access to digital assets. HB 108, sponsored by Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage), allows Alaskans to plan ahead for the posthumous management of their digital assets in the same way they can make plans for more tangible personal property. These digital assets include computer files, financial records, digital photographs, social media accounts, and other electronic communications. Under current Alaska law, fiduciaries in estate and conservator matters are limited in their abilities to manage digital assets. They are often prevented from accessing those accounts by password protection measures or restrictive terms of service. HB 108 works in conjunction with Alaska’s current laws on probate, guardianship, trusts, and powers of attorney.
“Bringing Alaska’s probate laws up-to-date is necessary as digital assets travel across state lines. Uniform laws assure that fiduciaries in every state will have equal access to those assets,” said Rep. Claman. “The bill also establishes a uniform standard so that the custodians of the assets, such as Google or Facebook, will have a single legal standard with which to comply.”
HB 108 passed the Alaska House of Representatives last week and was carried on the Senate Floor by Senator Shelly Hughes (R- Palmer) who introduced a companion bill in the State Senate. HB 108 matches legislation recommended by the Uniform Law Commission that has been introduced in 41 other states. Currently, 24 other states have adopted updated fiduciary access laws that provide for access to digital assets.
“Around ten percent of Alaska’s population are aged 65 or older and many of our seniors and elders are increasingly computer savvy,” said Rep. Claman. “It is more important than ever to update Alaska’s laws regulating fiduciary access to digital assets.”
HB 108 passed the Alaska Senate today by a vote of 20-0. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously on April 5th. HB 108 now goes to the desk of Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
For more information, contact Sara Perman in Rep. Claman’s office at (907) 465-4919.