ABA Approves Three Uniform Acts at its Recent Midyear Meeting

(February 13, 2015) -

Uniform Law Commission
111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago, IL  60602
312/450-6600, Fax 312/450-6601, www.uniformlaws.org

Contact:  Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, katie.robinson@uniformlaws.org

For Immediate Release:

ABA Approves Three New Uniform Acts
New Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Among Acts Approved

February 13, 2015 – Three new uniform acts have been approved by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates at its Midyear Meeting in Houston, Texas, February 5-9, 2014.  The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, the Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision Making Documents Act, and the 2014 Amendments to the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (formerly known as the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act), approved by the ABA’s House of Delegates, were drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 2014.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act is a simple yet comprehensive new law.  In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones.  Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets.  Photographs are uploaded to web sites rather than printed on paper.  However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.”  If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset.  UFADAA governs four common types of fiduciaries: personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate; guardians or conservators of a protected person’s estate; agents under a power of attorney; and trustees.  UFADAA defers to an account holder’s privacy choices as expressed in a document (such as a will or trust), or online by an affirmative act separate from the general terms-of-service agreement.  Therefore, an account holder’s desire to keep certain assets private will be honored under UFADAA. 

The Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision-Making Documents Act is a joint endeavor of the Uniform Law Commission and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada.  The project was undertaken to promote the portability and usefulness of substitute decision-making documents for property, health care, and personal care, without regard to whether the documents are created within or outside of the jurisdiction where a substitute decision is needed.  Common examples of substitute decision-making documents include powers of attorney and proxy delegations for personal decision making.

Amendments to the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (formerly the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act) address a small number of narrowly-defined issues, and is not a comprehensive revision.  Amendments include a new Section 10, which sets forth a choice of law rule for claims of the nature governed by the Act, as well as the addition of uniform rules allocating the burden of proof and defining the standard of proof with respect to claims and defenses under the Act.

Information on each of these uniform acts is available at the ULC’s website at www.uniformlaws.org.

The Uniform Law Commission, now in its 124th year, provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.  The organization comprises more than 300 lawyers, judges, and law professors, appointed by the states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to research, draft and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of state law where uniformity is desirable and practical.  Since its inception in 1892, the group has promulgated more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Uniform Partnership Act.