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Iowa Ready to Pass Bill on Digital Assets in Estate

The Des Moines Register reports that the digital assets of dead Iowans would be addressed under a bill recently approved by a vote of 48 to 0 by the Iowa Senate.

The article, “Dead Iowans’ digital assets focus of Senate bill,” explains that current state law doesn’t adequately address what happens to digital assets (like social media accounts, email accounts, photographs and other online assets) when a person dies, according to Senator Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids.

Senate File 2112, which was sent to the Iowa House, was proposed by the Iowa State Bar Association.

The bill states that people could provide instructions to an online or digital provider regarding how they want their assets handled in the event of their death, or they could have these instructions in their will. If the deceased doesn’t provided instructions, however, the matter could be handled by the fiduciary of his or her estate.

The bill defines an “agent” as an attorney-in-fact granted authority under a durable or nondurable power of attorney. The bill notes:

“The legal duties imposed on a fiduciary charged with managing tangible property apply to the management of digital assets, including all of the following:

  1. The duty of care.

  2. The duty of loyalty.

  3. The duty of confidentiality.”

Senator Hogg said that if the bill is signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad, it will be an important act of legislation concerning estate planning.

Reference: The Des Moines Register (February 22, 2016) “Dead Iowans’ digital assets focus of Senate bill”

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