Monthly Archives: December 2017

December 5, 2017

Litigating RUFADAA: What is a “communication”?

by Morgan Wiener

I’ve been on a calendar, but never on time.

-Marilyn Monroe

While the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“RUFADAA”) has now been enacted in a majority of states – 17 states have adopted a version of the act so far this year – there has been very little litigation about the act to date.  As a result, there is little guidance from the courts about the interpretation of key terms and how disputes will be resolved.  A recent decision from the New York Surrogate’s Court helps fill in some of the gaps.  In In re Estate of Serrano, 54 N.Y.S.3d 564 (2017), the court interpreted the definition of “communication” in Article 13-A of the Estate’s Powers and Trusts Law (“EPTL”), a New York statute modeled after RUFADAA.

The issue in Serrano involved a personal representative’s request for access to the decedent’s Google email account, contacts, and calendar.  In response to the request, Google asked for a court order stating that “disclosure of the content [of the requested electronic information] would not violate any applicable laws, including but not limited to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and any state equivalent.”  Id. at 565.  Read more >>