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Virginia’s New Access to Digital Assets Act

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By Jessica A. Hayes

Effective July 1, 2017, Virginia will be repealing its current law relating to digital assets, the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act, and will adopt the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which will be codified as Virginia Code §§ 64.2-116 through 64.2-132 (the “Digital Assets Act”).

Under the Digital Assets Act, a “digital asset” is broadly defined as “an electronic record in which the individual has a right or interest.”  The Digital Assets Act will permit a fiduciary – the executor or administrator of an estate, the trustee of a trust, the guardian and conservator of an incapacitated person, and the agent under a power of attorney – to manage the principal’s digital assets such as computer files, web domains, and virtual currency.  However, it will restrict a fiduciary’s access to electronic communications such as email and text messages (the “content of an electronic communication”) and social media accounts, unless the original user specifically consented to such access in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record. Whereas the previous law concerning digital assets applied only to executors and administrators of estates, the new law will apply to also to guardians, conservators, and agents under powers of attorney, broadening the scope of the law, and will provide more specific guidance to the “custodians” of digital assets (those who carry, maintain, process, receive, or store digital assets) which closely mirrors the laws of other states that have enacted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. What does this mean for you?  If you wish for your executor, trustee, or agent to be able to access the content of your electronic communications, as opposed to merely a log of the parties to and date of the communications, you should include wording in your will, trust, and power of attorney to specifically permit it, in accordance with the terms of the new Digital Assets Act.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Cats and Boxes

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about cats and why they love boxes so much?

Kit Kat:  Well, we cats have our own special idiosyncrasies. One of them is that we love small, defined spaces. They make us feel protected and secure. It’s not just me saying this, or what you might have observed yourself about cats. Dr. Nicholas Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine says, “When young, they used to snuggle with their mom and litter mates, feeling the warmth and soothing contact. Think of it as a kind of swaddling behavior. The close contact with the box’s exterior, we believe, releases endorphins—nature’s own morphinelike substances—causing pleasure and reducing stress.” Pigs have a similar liking, he says about research he conducted with Temple Grandin of Colorado State University. However, for them, ‘lateral side pressure’ is all it takes to have a soothing effect.

More validation for cats’ preference of small spaces like boxes comes from Dutch scientists. Their research showed how shelter cats that were provided with boxes as retreats adapted much faster to their new environment when compared with those who were not provided boxes as a safe haven.

To take this a step further, it even appears that cats, with no available boxes at hand, will choose to sit in a taped representation on the floor or carpet of a box. It certainly is not a perfect substitute for the real thing, but it does represent to them, a smaller space which corresponds to their diminished stature.

And there you have it! To make your cat happy, all you have to do is provide a box or basket for them to snuggle in. My mom lines them with towels which can be regularly washed, so that the area is always fresh and clean! (Nicholas Dodman, “Your cat loves hopping into boxes. Here’s why.”

The Washington Post, Health and Science section, April 22, 2017; Originally published on theconversation.com.)

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Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.