Alaska Signs Bill Clarifying Digital Asset Stewardship
On October 6, 2017, Alaska governor Bill Walker signed the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act into law, establishing a legal framework that defines the ways in which an individual’s digital assets, including cryptocurrency, can be entrusted to the care of a custodian. The act also spells out the laws regulating what that custodian can and cannot do with the digital assets in question. Introduced by six democratic state representatives and one independent, it goes into effect on October 31, 2017.
As per the language of the act, it relates “to a specific electronic communications power that a principal may select for an agent under the statutory form power of attorney.” Among other things, the act offers guidance on the legalities of a designated party dispensing with an individual’s cryptocurrency, particularly after that person has died.
A key provision of the act sheds light on the question of how to manage a decedent’s crypto holdings, which, before the passage of the bill, occupied legal gray area. It reads, “A user may use an online tool to direct the custodian to disclose to a designated recipient, or not to disclose, some or all of the user's digital assets, including the content of electronic communications.”
If the user has not deployed “an online tool” to designate a custodian, he or she can use a “will, trust, power of attorney, or other record” for the same purpose.
Various other state-level bills to introduce regulations and legal frameworks relating to the blockchain space have been introduced and passed in 2017 as lawmakers have become increasingly aware of the technology.
Bills similar to the one passed in Alaska have appeared in other states as well.