DLA appointed as an observer for the European Law Institute – Digital Assets Project

European Law Institute 


The Digital Legacy Association have been appointed as an ‘observer’ for the European Law Institute’s ‘Model Rules on Succession of Digital Assets, Data and other Digital Remains’ programme. Other observers for this program are from The European Commission, STEP, Uniform Law Commission, Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) and The. Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE)



Succession of Digital Assets, Data and other Digital Remains are increasingly important considerations in succession, estate planning and estate litigation, as more people conduct their lives online and accumulate valuable digital assets, accounts and data. Legal professionals report issues in dealing with these cases and advise their clients in the estate planning process. Technology companies also report a lack of clarity when it comes to accessing accounts and data on their services. A growing number of business models aim to exploit the lack of rules in this area and offer technological solutions (eg digital estate planning tools, chatbots, password managers, etc), often with the risk of legally inefficient outcomes, resulting in legal uncertainty. Citizens in the EU struggle to navigate complex terms of service, both when attempting to plan their own estate distribution and when trying to access and manage the estate of their deceased family members and friends. Given the ever-increasing volume and value of digital legacy, as well as the conflicts and issues mentioned, there is a pressing need to regulate and legislate this vital area that intersects numerous areas of law (succession law, property, contract, IP, data protection, jurisdiction, personality rights, criminal law, etc).  


The project aims at drafting model law/rules to harmonise key provisions on the definition of digital remains, access and inheritability, and data protection issues. The project will help define and distinguish different types of assets, remains and personal data, define their inheritability and transmission, as well as examine existing rules on applicable law, jurisdiction, data protection and other relevant areas of law, with a view to ascertaining their suitability for this field, failing which proposals may be put forward.  Key target audiences include: EU and Member State legislators and governments, courts, legal professionals, technology companies and service providers, professional associations, civil society, and citizens.


The main outcome of this project will be model Law/rules (and principles, for issues/areas where a model law is not suitable) aimed at influencing European legislation on the definition, scope, entitlement and access to the digital assets and data of a deceased person. These provisions would, if legislated, prevail over the contractual agreement between service providers and the deceased and harmonise the data protection standards in this field.



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