Pasternak & Fidis Reporter

May 16, 2016

Maryland enacts laws on Trusts and Digital Assets to take effect in October 2016

For a long time, the rule in Maryland has been that a divorce revokes the provisions of a will that benefit the former spouse, but we did not have the same rule for revocable trusts.  Beginning October 1, 2016, the same rule will apply to revocable trusts—divorce will revoke those provisions of the trust that benefit the former spouse.

The Maryland Trust Act will, beginning October 1, 2016, include language allowing interested persons to enter into a binding, non-judicial settlement agreement with respect to trust matters.  This means that, without having to go to court, the trustee and beneficiaries of a trust can get together and agree to resolve trust-related issues that they would previously have had to resolve in a court proceeding.  This should make it easier and less expensive to resolve trust matters such as construction of ambiguous provisions in the trust language, trustee succession, approval of trustees’ reports, and authorizing the trustee to undertake a particular transaction not already authorized by the trust’s terms.

The Maryland Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act takes effect October 1.  This new law will allow individuals to leave binding instructions regarding the disposition of their digital assets in the event of death or disability.  Those instructions can be included in the estate planning documents or other written record, or they can be made through use of an account-specific “online tool” (like Facebook’s Legacy Contact feature or Google’s Inactive Account Manager feature).  Partner Anne Coventry, as part of her service to the Maryland State Bar Association’s Estates & Trust Law Section Council, worked exhaustive hours to help get this law enacted, which will give individuals greater control over their digital legacies and help families and fiduciaries to administer estates.