Pennsylvania Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act – January 2021

The beginning of 2021 means new laws across the nation, including the Pennsylvania Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, effective January 19, 2021. The Pennsylvania Act allows fiduciaries to gain access to a decedent’s digital assets or electronic communications after they die. A complete copy of the Pennsylvania Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act can be found here, and will be located at Title 20, Chapter 39 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

What Is the Purpose of the Pennsylvania Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act?

The purpose of Pennsylvania’s Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act is to provide certain fiduciaries with access to a decedent’s electronic life and digital assets after they die.

What Is a Digital Asset Under the Act?

A digital asset is defined under the 2021 Pennsylvania Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act as:
An electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest. The term does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record.

What Is a Custodian Under the Pennsylvania Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act?

A custodian under the Pennsylvania 2021 Act is defined as:
A person that carries, maintains, processes, receives or stores a digital asset of a user.

Who Does The 2021 Pennsylvania Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Apply To?

The 2021 Pennsylvania Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Act applies to:
  1. A fiduciary acting under a will or power of attorney executed before, on or after the effective date of this section;
  2. A personal representative acting for a decedent who died before, on or after the effective date of this section;
  3. A proceeding for the appointment of a guardian of the estate commenced before, on or after the effective date of this section; and
  4. A trustee acting under a trust created before, on or after the effective date of this section.
  The above fiduciaries are given authority to access a decedent’s digital assets if expressly given the consent to do so. The Act does not apply to a digital asset of an employer used by an employee in the ordinary course of the employer’s business.

How Does A Personal Representative Get Access To a Decedent’s Electronic Communications?

A custodian of digital records shall disclose to a Pennsylvania personal representative the electronic communications of a deceased user if a deceased user consented to or a court directs disclosure of the content of electronic communications of the user if the personal representative gives the custodian:
  1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;
  2. A certified copy of the death certificate of the user;
  3. A certified copy of the letters;
  4. Unless the user provided direction using an online tool, a copy of the user’s will, trust, power of attorney or other record evidencing the user’s consent to disclosure of the content of electronic communications; and
  5. If requested by the custodian, certain identifying information.
The Act also contains provisions for access to other digital assets of a deceased user. As the electronic lives of individuals grow, Pennsylvania’s Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, effective January 19, 2021, will play an important role in estates of Pennsylvania decedents.

Find a Lawyer for Probate, Litigation, Guardianship or Estate Planning

Lawyer Locator Front End