Digital Asset Law Breaking News: Personal Representative May Be Given Access to Decedent’s Email!

Digital Estate Planning: How To Organize All Your Digital ...

On October 16, 2017, the  Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled favorably on a Personal Representative’s access to a deceased user’s online accounts and digital property (Ajemian v. Yahoo). This is the first reported case with respect to access to digital assets by a fiduciary.
When You’re Asked to Be a Personal Representative of an ...

The conundrum: Email are part of a deceased user’s estate.  But a personal representative (aka executor) can’t read them without violating Federal privacy or anti-hacking law.  The Ajemian case is the first to permit access and will empower fiduciaries though out the US.

10 Things You Need to Know

(1) This is the first case in the country to answer the specific question of “lawful consent” by a fiduciary under the Stored Communications Act (SCA).*

(2) SCA = protection of privacy.

(3) Privacy protections = significant obstacle for personal representatives trying to gain access to a deceased users online accounts and digital property, including and more specifically emails.

(4) When the SCA applies, the online company (think Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft…) is prohibited from disclosing the contents of electronic communications or files to anyone (this includes family members and fiduciaries) other than the user.

(5) SCA Exceptions = online company may voluntarily disclose such information, but IS NOT required.

(7) Voluntary disclosure is restricted unless a statutory exception under the SCA applies.**

(8) Enter the Lawful Consent Exception to the SCA.***

The text of the SCA does not explicitly answer whether a fiduciary of a deceased user may grant “lawful consent” on behalf of such deceased user in order for the online company to voluntarily disclose account contents. This is the first case to answer that question. This case answered that question by holding – a personal representative of a deceased user may provide lawful consent on the deceased user’s behalf in order for the online company to release the contents of a deceased user’s email account.

(9) Note – Ajemian means that the “lawful consent” exception to the SCA applies to personal representatives, and thus while the online company is not required to disclose the contents, the Court held that it may disclose.

(10) Enter RUFADAA (Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act).  RUFADAA provides state law procedures for fiduciaries to request disclosure from online companies, including obtaining a court order if necessary.  38 states have a digital asset act (36 enacted RUFADAA). Massachusetts, whose law applied in the Ajemian, has neither. RUFADAA works best when certain “magic”words are in the relevant estate planning documents – Will, Trust and Power of Attorney.

Questions? Email me!


  • *SCA is found at U.S.C. §§2701 – 2712
  • **§2702(b) – Exceptions to the SCA.
  • ***§2702(b)(3) Lawful consent exception.


The newest perk for Amazon Prime members includes Tom Brady, Cam ...

“So is Amazon. Yesterday, it came out that the company struck a $50 million deal with the NFL to livestream football games this year. This comes as people continue to cut that TV cord in favor of options like Netflix and Hulu. And as Amazon’s been continuing to try to take over the world one online shopping cart at a time, it’s also been trying to get more eyeballs – and cash money – by pushing into the video and TV biz. The NFL games will still be on regular ‘ole network TV. But now Amazon Prime members can get in on the game action too. And since sports are a big reason people keep their cable subscriptions, this is one more fumble for cable companies. Touchdown, Amazon.

THANK you to theSkimm for this blog-post.  see more great theSkimm news here –>

theSkimm is the best thing to happen to my mornings since coffee! I ...

Someone Gave Me a Shotgun?? 

This was my first time ever shooting a gun – much less one almost as long as I am!!  Had such a blast! The recoil is shocking, but worth it! 


Get ’em – those clay pigeons & rabbits!  Got a few doubles my first time out – shocked myself! 

The Applicable Federal Rates (AFRs) Continue to Rise!!

Malaysia Epf Interest Rate For 2015 -

Moving on Up!!!

For April 2017, the AFRs continue to rise –

Short Term is 1.11%

Mid Term is 2.12%

Long Term is 2.82%

It was not that long ago that short term rates were under .50%.

See full chart of April 2017 rates here –>

The 7520 rate of 2.6% is the highest its been since June of 2011.

AFRs basically set the floor as to what interest rate can be charged for intra-family loans.  If the interest on a loan is lower than the AFR, it could result in a taxable event.

Want to learn more –

the internal revenue service has released the applicable federal rates ...

2017 Estate, Gift and GST Update! What Does This Mean to Your Current Plan?

Inheritance Tax

The current permanent Federal Transfer Tax Landscape by The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012:

(1) Reunification of the Estate and Gift Tax Regimes;

(2) $5MM (as increased for inflation) exemptions for estate, gift and generation skipping transfer taxes; and

(3) Portability for the estate tax exemption between spouses at death. (Please note this only applies to the estate tax exemption; the GST exemption is not portable.)

2017 Federal Inflation Exemption Increases per individual:

  • $5,490,000 federal estate tax exemption / federal lifetime gift tax exemption.
  • $5,490,000 federal GST tax exemption (increased from $5,450,000 (so additional $40,000 from 2016).
  • All increased from $5,450,000, so additional $40,000 from 2016.
  • 40% top tax rate for federal estate, gift and GST tax.
  • $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion (no increase for 2016). This is in addition to the lifetime exemption.

What does this mean to you? Increased exemptions offer opportunities to leverage assets through a variety of estate planning techniques and make larger lifetime gifts.  Additionally, there is income tax planning that can be done – shift income producing assets to children or grandchildren who are in lower income tax brackets or reside in states with a low or no state income tax.

State Estate Tax Update: Trying to prevent the exodus of wealthy individuals to more tax favored jurisdictions…estate tax exemptions go up or are eliminated altogether.

New Jersey going from $675,000 of exemption to $2,000,000 in 2017.  New Jersey estate tax will be eliminated altogether in 2018.  There will be no New Jersey estate tax for Jersey residents dying after January 1, 2018.

New York increased its state estate tax exemption to $5,250,000 on April 1, 2017.  However, NY includes a catch.  For estates valued more then 105% of the New York basic exclusion amount, a New York estate tax will be imposed on the entire amount. For example: assume a person dies domiciled in NY on June 10, 2017 with an estate valued at $5,550,000.  The NY basic exclusion amount will be $5,250,000.  The value of the estate exceeds 105% of the then available NY basic exclusion amount ($5,250,000 * 105% = $5,512,500), the estate will be subject to NY estate tax on the ENTIRE $5,550,000. However,if the person had died with an estate valued at $5,249,000, NO NY estate tax would be owed because the basic exclusion amount would apply to the estate.

Florida – no state estate tax! no state income tax! just sunny and awesome!

when it comes to investment property things are sunny in florida

Royka Rocks and so does our Fitness from Afar!!

Royka – Founder and CEO of InnerStrength is amazing and so is our FaceTime fitness!! Nashville to Palm Beach!  This FaceTime Fitness would not be possible without all the time I spent training with Royka in Nashville while attending law school.  Not only did I get a JD, but I also became a certified personal trainer.  So after I graduated and was practicing law, I started my day with teaching an abdominal class at 6am.  Abs have always been my favorite spot to strengthen. When the core is tight, the world feels right!

My counter-part in this photo is Eric Keeton (a friend from my Nashville days and my 2005 music city marathon buddy). He is rocking the FaceTime Fitness from even further than I – Germany. Love the Internet and how it connects and re-connects people all over the world.


I love the Florida Bankers!!

Especially, Lobbyist Kenny Pratt and the COO Pam Ricco of the Florida Bankers! And of course, my colleagues
on the Trust Executive Council!

I serve as the Chair of the Trust and Wealth Management Division’s Legislative Committee.  I have always been fascinated with law-making and this puts me on the front line, well almost.



%d bloggers like this: