Delaware enacts new law on digital assets inheritance

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What happens to your digital currency holdings and other virtual assets when you pass away? That has been the topic of discussion in the state of Delaware over the past couple of weeks after the state legislature enacted a new law that deals with this precise issue.

Last week, the Delaware State of Representatives passed House Bill 345 that regulates digital legacy matters and gives families the permission to access their relatives’ digital assets in the event of a death or incapacitation. The purpose of this legislation is to assist in protecting Delaware residents who have bitcoin, litecoin, dogecoin and other virtual currency holdings.

Entitled “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act,” the bill lets heirs and estate executors have the authority to control digital accounts and devices akin to physical assets. This bill is in the same vain as Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA), measure produced by non-profit organisation the Uniform Law Commission.

“A fiduciary with authority over digital assets or digital accounts of an account holder under this chapter shall have the same access as the account holder, and is deemed to (i) have the lawful consent of the account holder and (ii) be an authorized user under all applicable state and federal law and regulations and any end user license agreement.”

Delaware Democratic State Congressman Daryl Scot, who was the bill’s lead author, noted that legislators have failed in the past of keeping up with technological advancements so this new law helps protects the rights of average, ordinary citizens.

Some are displeased that the law is only limited to Delaware residents.

“If a California resident dies and his will is governed by California law, the representative of his estate would not have access to his Twitter account under HB 345,” said Kelly Bachman, spokesperson for State Governor Jack Markell, in an interview with Ars Technica.

Bachman added that the legislation applies only to those whose will is governed by Delaware law.

Others are also concerned about privacy. Director of the State Privacy and Security Coalition Jim Halpert noted that House Bill 345 does not take into account privacy issues, which means inheritors can view highly classified accounts, documents, videos and photos.

Meanwhile, CoinDesk examined the issue of digital wills earlier this year. In regards to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, here is what the news publication wrote:

“Bitcoin assets pose even more challenges due to their very nature. Trades can be executed globally in seconds, keys can be stored halfway around the globe, while bitcoins can be stored on a wide range of digital media and on physical wallets.”

Since Delaware established a precedent than other states may very well follow the same route.

Coinbuzz

CoinBuzz provides news and analysis on Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Founded in 2014, the site has quickly become a leading source of information on digital currency technologies, businesses, markets, and regulation.

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