Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 64.2. Wills, Trusts, and Fiduciaries
5/20/2019

Subtitle I. General Provisions.

Chapter 1. Definitions and General Provisions.

Article 1. Definitions.

§ 64.2-100. Definitions.

As used in this title, unless the context otherwise requires:

"Bona fide purchaser" means a purchaser of property for value who has acted in the transaction in good faith. Notice of a seller's marital status, or notice of the existence of a premarital or marital agreement, does not affect the status of a bona fide purchaser. A "purchaser" is one who acquires property by sale, lease, discount, negotiation, mortgage, pledge, or lien or who otherwise deals with property in a voluntary transaction, other than a gift. A purchaser gives "value" for property acquired in return for a binding commitment to extend credit to the transferor or another as security for or in total or partial satisfaction of a pre-existing claim, or in return for any other consideration sufficient to support a simple contract.

"Fiduciary" includes a guardian, committee, trustee, executor, conservator, or personal representative.

"Personal representative" includes the executor under a will or the administrator of the estate of a decedent, the administrator of such estate with the will annexed, the administrator of such estate unadministered by a former representative, whether there is a will or not, any person who is under the order of a circuit court to take into his possession the estate of a decedent for administration, and every other curator of a decedent's estate, for or against whom suits may be brought for causes of action that accrued to or against the decedent.

"Trustee" means a trustee under a probated will or an inter vivos trust instrument.

"Will" includes any testament, codicil, exercise of a power of appointment by will or by a writing in the nature of a will, or any other testamentary disposition.

Code 1950, § 64-47; 1968, c. 656, § 64.1-45; 1992, cc. 617, 647, § 64.1-01; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-101. Construction of generic terms.

In the interpretation of wills and trusts, adopted persons and persons born out of wedlock are included in class gift terminology or terms of relationship in accordance with rules for determining relationships for purposes of intestate succession unless a contrary intent appears on the face of the will or trust. In determining the intent of a testator or settlor, adopted persons are presumptively included in such terms as "children," "issue," "kindred," "heirs," "relatives," "descendents" or similar words of classification and are presumptively excluded by such terms as "natural children," "issue of the body," "blood kindred," "heirs of the body," "blood relatives," "descendents of the body" or similar words of classification. In the event that a fiduciary makes payment to members of a class to the exclusion of persons born out of wedlock of whose claim of paternity or maternity the fiduciary has no knowledge, the fiduciary shall not be held liable to such persons for payments made prior to knowledge of such claim. This section shall apply to all inter vivos trusts executed after July 1, 1978, and to all wills of decedents dying after July 1, 1978, regardless of when executed.

1978, c. 647, § 64.1-71.1; 1987, c. 604; 2012, c. 614.

Article 2. General Provisions.

§ 64.2-102. Meaning of child and related terms.

If, for purposes of this title or for determining rights in and to property pursuant to any deed, will, trust or other instrument, a relationship of parent and child must be established to determine succession or a taking by, through, or from a person:

1. An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and not of the biological parents, except that adoption of a child by the spouse of a biological parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and either biological parent.

2. The parentage of a child resulting from assisted conception is determined as provided in Chapter 9 (§ 20-156 et seq.) of Title 20.

3. Except as otherwise provided by subdivision 1 or 2, a person born out of wedlock is a child of the mother. That person is also a child of the father, if:

a. The biological parents participated in a marriage ceremony before or after the birth of the child, even though the attempted marriage was prohibited by law, deemed null or void, or dissolved by a court; or

b. Paternity is established by clear and convincing evidence, including scientifically reliable genetic testing, as set forth in § 64.2-103; however, paternity established pursuant to this subdivision is ineffective to qualify the father or his kindred to inherit from or through the child unless the father has openly treated the child as his and has not refused to support the child.

4. No claim of succession based upon the relationship between a child born out of wedlock and a deceased parent of such child shall be recognized unless, within one year of the date of the death of such parent (i) an affidavit by such child or by someone acting for such child alleging such parenthood has been filed in the clerk's office of the circuit court of the jurisdiction wherein the property affected by such claim is located and (ii) an action seeking adjudication of parenthood is filed in an appropriate circuit court. The one-year limitation period runs notwithstanding the minority of such child; however, it does not apply in those cases where the relationship between the child born out of wedlock and the parent in question is established by (a) a birth record prepared upon information given by or at the request of such parent; (b) admission by such parent of parenthood before any court or in writing under oath; or (c) a previously entered judgment establishing such parent's paternity by a court having jurisdiction to determine his paternity.

5. Unless otherwise specifically provided therein, an order terminating residual parental rights under § 16.1-283 terminates the rights of the parent to take from or through the child in question but the order does not otherwise affect the rights of the child, the child's kindred, or the parent's kindred to take from or through the parent or the rights of the parent's kindred to take from or through the child.

1978, c. 647, § 64.1-5.1; 1989, c. 466; 1994, c. 919; 1998, c. 603; 1999, c. 781; 2009, c. 449; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-103. Evidence of paternity.

A. For the purposes of this title, paternity of a child born out of wedlock shall be established by clear and convincing evidence, and such evidence may include the following:

1. That he cohabited openly with the mother during all of the 10 months immediately prior to the time the child was born;

2. That he gave consent to a physician or other person, not including the mother, charged with the responsibility of securing information for the preparation of a birth record that his name be used as the father of the child upon the birth record of the child;

3. That he allowed by a general course of conduct the common use of his surname by the child;

4. That he claimed the child as his child on any statement, tax return, or other document filed and signed by him with any local, state, or federal government or any agency thereof;

5. That he admitted before any court having jurisdiction to determine his paternity that he is the father of the child;

6. That he voluntarily admitted paternity in writing under oath;

7. The results of scientifically reliable genetic tests, including DNA tests, weighted with all the evidence; or

8. Other medical, scientific, or anthropological evidence relating to the alleged parentage of the child based on tests performed by experts.

B. A judgment establishing a father's paternity made by a court having jurisdiction to determine his paternity is sufficient evidence of paternity for the purposes of this section.

1978, c. 647, § 64.1-5.2; 1989, c. 466; 1991, c. 479; 1999, c. 781; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-104. Incorporation by reference into a will, power of attorney, or trust instrument.

A. The following original documents may be incorporated by reference into a will, power of attorney, or trust instrument:

1. A letter or memorandum to the fiduciary or agent as to the interpretation of discretionary powers of distribution where the will, power of attorney, or trust instrument grants the fiduciary or agent the power to make distributions to beneficiaries in the discretion of the fiduciary or agent; and

2. A letter or memorandum stating the views or directions of the maker of the will, power of attorney, or trust instrument as to the exercise of discretion by the fiduciary or agent in making health care decisions for the maker.

B. No provision in the original document sought to be incorporated by reference under this section is enforceable if it contradicts or is inconsistent with a provision of the incorporating will, power of attorney, or trust instrument, including if it alters the possession or enjoyment of trust property or the income therefrom as directed in the trust instrument.

C. This section shall not prevent the incorporation by reference of any writing into any other writing that would otherwise be effective under § 64.2-400 or under any other law of incorporation by reference.

D. The maker shall sign and have notarized the documents referenced in subsection A and may prepare the documents before or after the execution of the will, power of attorney, or trust instrument.

2001, c. 369, § 64.1-45.2; 2002, c. 119; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-105. Incorporation by reference of certain powers of fiduciaries into will or trust instrument.

A. For purposes of this section:

"Environmental law" means any federal, state, or local law, rule, regulation, or ordinance relating to protection of the environment or human health.

"Estate" includes all interests in the real or personal property of a decedent passing by will or by intestate succession.

"Fiduciary" includes one or more individuals or corporations having trust powers, and includes the fiduciary of the estate of a decedent and the trustee of an inter vivos or testamentary trust. Any substitute, added, or successor fiduciary shall have all of the powers hereby provided for the fiduciary named in the will or trust instrument.

"Hazardous substances" means any substances defined as hazardous or toxic or otherwise regulated by any environmental law.

B. The following powers, in addition to all other powers granted by law, may be incorporated in whole or in part in any will or trust instrument by reference to this section:

1. To keep and retain any or all investments and property, real, personal or mixed, including stock in the fiduciary, if the fiduciary is a corporation, in the same form as they are at the time the investments and property come into the custody of the fiduciary, regardless of the character of the investments and property, whether they are such as then would be authorized by law for investment by fiduciaries, or whether a disproportionately large part of the trust or estate remains invested in one or more types of property, for such time as the fiduciary deems best, and to dispose of such property by sale, exchange, or otherwise as and when such fiduciary deems advisable.

2. At the discretion of the fiduciary, to receive additions to the estate from any source, in cash or in kind, and to hold, administer, and distribute such additions as a part of and under the same terms and conditions as the estate then currently held.

3. To sell, assign, exchange, transfer and convey, or otherwise dispose of, any or all of the investments and property, real, personal or mixed, that are included in, or may at any time become part of the trust or estate upon such terms and conditions as the fiduciary, in his absolute discretion, deems advisable, at either public or private sale, either for cash or deferred payments or other consideration, as the fiduciary determines. For the purpose of selling, assigning, exchanging, transferring, or conveying such investments and property, the fiduciary has the power to make, execute, acknowledge, and deliver any and all instruments of conveyance, deeds of trust, or assignments in such form and with warranties and covenants as the fiduciary deems expedient and proper; and in the event of any sale, conveyance, exchange, or other disposition of any of the trust or estate, the purchaser shall not be obligated in any way to see to the application of the purchase money or other consideration passing in connection therewith.

4. To grant, sell, transfer, exchange, purchase, or acquire options of any kind on property held by such trust or estate or acquired or to be acquired by such trust or estate or held or owned by any other person.

5. To lease any or all of the real estate that is included in or may at any time become a part of the trust or estate upon such terms and conditions as the fiduciary in his sole judgment and discretion deems advisable. Any lease made by the fiduciary may extend beyond the term of the trust or administration of the estate and, for the purpose of leasing such real estate, the fiduciary has the power to make, execute, acknowledge, and deliver any and all instruments, in such form and with such covenants and warranties as the fiduciary deems expedient and proper.

6. To vote any stocks, bonds, or other securities held by the fiduciary at any meeting of stockholders, bondholders, or other security holders, and to delegate the power to so vote to attorneys-in-fact or proxies under power of attorney, restricted or unrestricted.

7. To borrow money for such periods of time and upon such terms and conditions as to rates, maturities, renewals, and security as to the fiduciary seems advisable, including the power to borrow from the fiduciary, if the fiduciary is a bank, for the purpose of paying (i) debts, taxes, or other charges against the trust or estate or any part thereof and (ii) with prior approval of the court for any proper purpose of the trust or estate. The fiduciary has the power to mortgage or pledge such portion of the trust or estate as may be required to secure such loans and, as maker or endorser, to renew existing loans.

8. To make loans or advancements to the executor or other representative of the grantor's estate in case such executor or other representative is in need of cash with which to pay taxes, claims, or other indebtedness of the grantor's estate; but no assets acquired from a qualified retirement benefit plan under § 2039(c) of the Internal Revenue Code shall be used to make such loans or advancements, and such assets shall be segregated and held separately until all claims against the estate for debts of the decedent or claims of administration have been satisfied. Such loans or advancements may be secured or unsecured, and the trustee is not liable in any way for any loss resulting to the trust or estate by reason of the exercise of this authority.

9. To compromise, adjust, arbitrate, sue on or defend, abandon, or otherwise deal with and settle claims in favor of or against the trust or estate as the fiduciary deems best, and his decision is conclusive.

10. To make distributions in cash or in kind or partly in each at valuations to be determined by the fiduciary, whose decision as to values shall be conclusive.

11. To repair, alter, improve, renovate, reconstruct, or demolish any of the buildings on the real estate held by the fiduciary and to construct such buildings and improvements thereon as the fiduciary in his discretion deems advisable.

12. To employ and compensate, out of the principal or income, or both as to the fiduciary seems proper, agents, accountants, brokers, attorneys-in-fact, attorneys-at-law, tax specialists, licensed real estate brokers, licensed salesmen, and other assistants and advisors deemed by the fiduciary to be needful for the proper administration of the trust or estate, and to do so without liability for any neglect, omission, misconduct, or default of any such agent or professional representative provided he was selected and retained with reasonable care.

13. To rely upon any affidavit, certificate, letter, notice, telegram, or other paper or upon any telephone conversation believed by the fiduciary to be genuine and upon any other evidence believed by the fiduciary to be sufficient, and to be protected and held harmless for all payments or distributions required to be made hereunder if made in good faith and without actual notice or knowledge of the changed condition or status of any person receiving payments or other distributions upon a condition.

14. To retain any interest held by the fiduciary in any business, whether as a stockholder or security holder of a corporation, a partner, a sole proprietor, or otherwise, for any length of time, without limitations, solely at the risk of the trust or estate and without liability on the part of the fiduciary for any losses resulting therefrom; including the power to (i) participate in the conduct of such business and take or delegate to others discretionary power to take any action with respect to its management and affairs that an individual could take as the owner of such business, including the voting of stock and the determination of any or all questions of policy; (ii) participate in any incorporation, reorganization, merger, consolidation, recapitalization, or liquidation of the business; (iii) invest additional capital in, subscribe to additional stock or securities of, and loan money or credit with or without security to, such business out of the trust or estate property; (iv) elect or employ as directors, officers, employees, or agents of such business, and compensate, any persons, including the fiduciary or a director, officer, or agent of the fiduciary; (v) accept as correct financial or other statements rendered by the business from time to time as to its conditions and operations except when having actual notice to the contrary; (vi) regard the business as an entity separate from the trust or estate with no duty to account to any court as to its operations; (vii) deal with and act for the business in any capacity, including any banking or trust capacity and the loaning of money out of the fiduciary's own funds, and to be compensated therefor; and (viii) sell or liquidate such interest or any part thereof at any time. If any business shall be unincorporated, contractual and tort liabilities arising out of such business shall be satisfied, first, out of the business, and second, out of the trust or estate; but in no event shall there be a liability of the fiduciary, and if the fiduciary is held liable, the fiduciary is entitled to indemnification from, first, the business, and second, the trust or estate. The fiduciary is entitled to such additional compensation as is commensurate with the time, effort, and responsibility involved in his performance of services with respect to such business. Such compensation for services rendered to the business may be paid by the fiduciary from the business or from other assets or from both as the fiduciary, in his discretion, determines to be advisable; however, the amount of such additional compensation is subject to the final approval of the court.

15. To do all other acts and things not inconsistent with the provisions of the will or trust in which these powers are incorporated that the fiduciary deems necessary or desirable for the proper management of the trusts herein created, in the same manner and to the same extent as an individual could do with respect to his own property.

16. To hold property in the fiduciary's name or in the name of nominees.

17. During the minority, incapacity, or the disability of any beneficiary, and in the sole discretion of the fiduciary, to distribute income and principal to the beneficiary in any of the following ways: (i) directly to the beneficiary; (ii) to a relative, friend, guardian, conservator, or committee, to be expended by such person for the education, maintenance, support, or benefit of the beneficiary; (iii) by the fiduciary expending the same for the education, maintenance, support, or benefit of the beneficiary; (iv) to an adult person or bank authorized to exercise trust powers as custodian for a minor beneficiary under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (§ 64.2-1900 et seq.) to be held by such custodian under the terms of such act; or (v) to an adult person or bank authorized to exercise trust powers as custodial trustee for a beneficiary who is incapacitated as defined in § 64.2-900, under the Uniform Custodial Trust Act (§ 64.2-900 et seq.) to be held as custodial trustee under the terms of such act.

18. To continue and carry on any farming operation transferred to the fiduciary and to operate such farms and any other farm which may be acquired, including the power to (i) operate the farm with hired labor, tenants, or sharecroppers; (ii) hire a farm manager or a professional farm management service to supervise the farming operations; (iii) lease or rent the farm for cash or for a share of the crops; (iv) purchase or otherwise acquire farm machinery, equipment, and livestock; (v) construct, repair, and improve farm buildings of all sorts necessary, in the fiduciary's judgment, for the operation of the farm; (vi) make loans or advances or to obtain loans or advances from any source, including the fiduciary at the prevailing rate of interest for farm purposes including for production, harvesting, or marketing, for the construction, repair, or improvement of farm buildings, or for the purchase of farm machinery, equipment, or livestock; (vii) employ approved soil conservation practices in order to conserve, improve, and maintain the fertility and productivity of the soil; (viii) protect, manage, and improve the timber and forest on the farm and sell the timber and forest products when it is to the best interest of the estate or trust; (ix) ditch and drain damp or wet fields and areas of the farm when needed; (x) engage in livestock production, if it is deemed advisable, and to construct such fences and buildings and plant such pastures and crops as may be necessary to carry on a livestock program; (xi) execute contracts, notes, and chattel mortgages relating to agriculture with the Commodity Credit Corporation, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, or any other officer or agency of the federal or state government, to enter into acreage reduction agreements, to make soil conservation commitments, and to do all acts necessary to cooperate with any governmental agricultural program; and (xii) in general, employ the methods of carrying on the farming operation that are in common use by the community in which the farm is located. As the duties that the fiduciary is requested to assume with respect to farming operations may considerably enlarge and increase the fiduciary's usual responsibility and work as fiduciary, the fiduciary is entitled to such additional reasonable compensation as is commensurate with the time, effort, and responsibility involved in his performance of such services.

19. To purchase and hold life insurance policies on the life of any beneficiary, or any person in whom the beneficiary has an insurable interest, and pay the premiums thereon out of income or principal as the fiduciary deems appropriate; provided, however, that the decision of the beneficiary of any trust otherwise meeting the requirements of § 2056(b)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, shall control in respect to the purchase or holding of a life insurance policy by the trustee of such trust.

20. To make any election, including any election permitted by statutes enacted after the date of execution of the will or trust instrument, authorized under any law requiring, or relating to the requirement for, payment of any taxes or assessments on assets or income of the estate or in connection with any fiduciary capacity, regardless of whether any property or income is received by or is under the control of the fiduciary, including, elections concerning the timing of payment of any such tax or assessment, the valuation of any property subject to any such tax or assessment, and the alternative use of items of deduction in computing any tax or assessment.

21. To comply with environmental law:

a. To inspect property held by the fiduciary, including interests in sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations and any assets owned by any such business enterprise, for the purpose of determining compliance with environmental law affecting such property and to respond to a change in, or any actual or threatened violation of, any environmental law affecting property held by the fiduciary;

b. To take, on behalf of the estate or trust, any action necessary to respond to a change in, or prevent, abate, or otherwise remedy any actual or threatened violation of, any environmental law affecting property held by the fiduciary, either before or after the initiation of an enforcement action by any governmental body;

c. To refuse to accept property in trust if the fiduciary determines that any property to be transferred to the trust either is contaminated by any hazardous substance or is being used or has been used for any activity directly or indirectly involving any hazardous substance which could result in liability to the trust or otherwise impair the value of the assets held therein;

d. To disclaim any power granted by any document, statute, or rule of law that, in the sole discretion of the fiduciary, may cause the fiduciary to incur personal liability under any environmental law; and

e. To charge the cost of any inspection, review, abatement, response, cleanup, or remedial action authorized herein against the income or principal of the trust or estate.

22. To resign as fiduciary if the fiduciary reasonably believes that there is or may be a conflict of interest between him in his fiduciary capacity and in his individual capacity because of potential claims or liabilities which may be asserted against him on behalf of the trust or estate because of the type or condition of assets held therein.

C. For the purposes of this section, unless the will or trust instrument expresses a contrary intention, the incorporation by reference of powers enumerated by this statute shall refer to those powers existing at the time of death and reference to powers under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act in an instrument executed prior to July 1, 1989, shall be construed to refer to the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (§ 64.2-1900 et seq.).

D. This section shall not be construed to affect the application of the standard of judgment and care as set forth in the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (§ 64.2-780 et seq.).

E. In the event that the will or trust instrument contains a provision in favor of a surviving spouse of the testator or grantor, the powers enumerated in this section shall not be construed or interpreted to cause the bequest to fail to qualify for the marital deduction permitted under the federal estate tax law, unless the will or trust instrument shall specifically provide to the contrary. A fiduciary acting under a construction or interpretation of a power, where such action is otherwise reasonable under the circumstances, shall incur no responsibility for acts taken in good faith that are otherwise thereafter contended to cause disqualification for the marital deduction. This subsection applies without regard to when the will or trust was executed or probated or when the testator died in relation to the effective date of this section or amendments thereto.

Code 1950, § 64-57.2; 1966, c. 425; 1968, c. 656, § 64.1-57; 1970, cc. 65, 296; 1972, c. 788; 1973, c. 94; 1974, c. 659; 1976, c. 419; 1982, cc. 525, 549, 551; 1989, c. 736; 1990, c. 782; 1992, c. 584; 1994, c. 476; 1997, c. 801; 1999, cc. 772, 975; 2003, cc. 30, 42, 253; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-106. Grant of certain powers to personal representative or trustee by circuit court.

A. Upon the motion of a personal representative or trustee, a circuit court may grant to the personal representative or trustee all or a part of the powers that may be incorporated by reference pursuant to § 64.2-105. If there is more than one personal representative or trustee, the court may specify as to whether the consent of all personal representatives or trustees or a majority thereof shall be required to act, and in absence of such specification, the consent of all such personal representatives or trustees to act shall be required.

B. Such motion shall be filed in the circuit court in which the personal representative or trustee qualified, or if there was no qualification, the circuit court for the jurisdiction in which the grantor resides or resided at the time of his death, a trustee resides, or a corporate trustee has an office. Such motion may be ex parte; however, the court, in its discretion, may require such notice to and the convening of interested parties as it may deem proper in each case. Notwithstanding the granting of or the failure to grant such powers, the court shall have continuing jurisdiction to confer powers in addition to those previously granted or to revoke any or all such powers previously granted by the court. Such additional grant or revocation may also be ex parte.

C. The court may, in granting or withholding such powers, consider (i) whether the personal representative or trustee was nominated by the decedent, the grantor, or the beneficiaries; (ii) the number and capacity of the beneficiaries and their ability or inability to consent to the acts of the personal representative or trustee which are otherwise within the scope of § 64.2-105; (iii) the relationship of the personal representative or trustee to the beneficiaries; (iv) the character of the estate to be administered, including any real estate which would be within the scope of the powers granted by the provisions of § 64.2-106; and (v) the capacity of the personal representative or trustee to perform under the powers conferred and to answer for any acts for which he might be held accountable under his bond.

The court, in its discretion, may attach further conditions to such grant of power in any manner which it shall deem necessary and proper.

D. In no case shall a court grant any powers, if the grant of such powers would be contrary to the intention of the testator or grantor as implied from or as expressed in the will or trust instrument, or would otherwise be inconsistent with the disposition made in the will or trust instrument.

1976, c. 437, § 64.1-57.1; 1985, c. 345; 1988, c. 345; 1999, c. 995; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-107. Power granted to personal representatives to make election regarding marital deduction as to certain qualifying terminable interest property; binding effect of election.

A. For purposes of this section, "personal representative" includes the trustee of a qualified terminable interest property trust if there has been no qualification of a personal representative for the estate of the decedent who created the trust.

B. Personal representatives, whether heretofore or hereafter qualified, are hereby granted the power to make the election on the return of their decedents as required pursuant to § 2056(b)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, to obtain the marital deduction for bequests or devises of qualifying terminable interest property in favor of the surviving spouse created under a will or inter vivos trust of the decedent.

C. If the personal representative determines in good faith to make or not to make such an election and does not act imprudently in making such decision, the decision shall be final and binding upon all of the beneficiaries of the estate.

1982, c. 551, § 64.1-57.2; 1983, c. 54; 1999, c. 197; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-108. Power granted to personal representatives and trustees to donate conservation or open-space easements.

Personal representatives and trustees, whether heretofore or hereafter qualified or appointed, are hereby granted the power to donate a conservation easement as provided in the Virginia Conservation Easement Act (§ 10.1-1009 et seq.) or an open-space easement as provided in the Open-Space Land Act (§ 10.1-1700 et seq.) on any real property of their decedents and settlors, in order to obtain the benefit of the estate tax exclusion allowed under § 2031(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, provided they have the written consent of all of the heirs, beneficiaries, and devisees whose interests are affected thereby. Upon petition of the personal representative or trustee, the circuit court may give consent on behalf of any unborn, unascertained, or incapacitated heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees whose interests are affected thereby after determining that (i) the donation of the conservation easement will not adversely affect such heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees or (ii) it is more likely than not that such heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees would consent if they were before the court and capable of giving consent. A guardian ad litem shall be appointed to represent the interests of any unborn, unascertained, or incapacitated persons.

1999, cc. 503, 527, § 64.1-57.3; 2009, c. 588; 2012, c. 614.

§ 64.2-108.1. References to former sections, articles, or chapters.

When any will, trust instrument, power of attorney, or other instrument refers to a section of the Code that, at the time the reference was made in the will, trust instrument, power of attorney, or other instrument, had been repealed and transferred in the same or a modified form to a new section, article, or chapter in Title 64.2, the reference shall be construed to refer to the latter in the absence of any intent to the contrary.

2013, c. 89.

Article 3. Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act [Repealed].

§ 64.2-109. Repealed.

§§ 64.2-109 through 64.2-115. Repealed by Acts 2017, cc. 33 and 80, cl. 2.

Article 3.1. Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.

§ 64.2-116. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires otherwise:

"Account" means an arrangement under a terms-of-service agreement in which a custodian carries, maintains, processes, receives, or stores a digital asset of the user or provides goods or services to the user.

"Agent" means a person granted authority to act for a principal under a power of attorney, whether denominated an agent, attorney-in-fact, or otherwise. "Agent" includes an original agent, a coagent, a successor agent, and a person to which an agent's authority is delegated.

"Carries" means engages in the transmission of an electronic communication.

"Catalog of electronic communications" means information that identifies each person with which a user has had an electronic communication, the time and date of the communication, and the electronic address of the person.

"Conservator" means a person appointed by a court to manage the estate of a living individual. "Conservator" includes a limited conservator.

"Content of an electronic communication" means information concerning the substance or meaning of the communication that (i) has been sent or received by a user; (ii) is in electronic storage by a custodian providing an electronic communication service to the public or is carried or maintained by a custodian providing a remote computing service to the public; and (iii) is not readily accessible to the public.

"Court" means the circuit court for the county or city having jurisdiction over the fiduciary in matters relating to the content of this article.

"Custodian" means a person who carries, maintains, processes, receives, or stores a digital asset of a user.

"Designated recipient" means a person chosen by a user using an online tool to administer digital assets of the user.

"Digital asset" means an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest. "Digital asset" does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record.

"Electronic" means relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities.

"Electronic communication" has the same meaning as the definition provided in 18 U.S.C. § 2510(12).

"Electronic communication service" means a custodian that provides to a user the ability to send or receive an electronic communication.

"Fiduciary" means an original, additional, or successor personal representative, conservator, guardian, agent, or trustee.

"Guardian" means a person appointed by a court to manage the person of a living individual adult pursuant to Chapter 20 (§ 64.2-2000 et seq.) or a person appointed by a court to manage the estate of a minor pursuant to Chapter 17 (§ 64.2-1700 et seq.). "Guardian" includes a limited guardian.

"Information" means data, text, images, videos, sounds, codes, computer programs, software, databases, or something that is substantially similar.

"Online tool" means an electronic service provided by a custodian that allows the user, in an agreement distinct from the terms-of-service agreement between the custodian and user, to provide directions for disclosure or nondisclosure of digital assets to a third person.

"Person" means an individual; estate; business or nonprofit entity; public corporation; government or governmental subdivision, agency, or instrumentality; or other legal entity.

"Personal representative" means an executor, administrator, curator, designated successor or successor under the Virginia Small Estate Act (§ 64.2-600 et seq.), or person that performs substantially the same function under the laws of the Commonwealth other than this article.

"Power of attorney" means a record that grants an agent authority to act in the place of a principal.

"Principal" means an individual who grants authority to an agent in a power of attorney.

"Protected person" means an individual for whom a conservator or guardian has been appointed. "Protected person" includes an individual for whom an application for the appointment of a conservator or guardian is pending.

"Record" means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

"Remote computing service" means a custodian that provides to a user computer-processing services or the storage of digital assets by means of an electronic communications system, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2510(14).

"Terms-of-service agreement" means an agreement that controls the relationship between a user and a custodian.

"Trustee" means a fiduciary with legal title to property under an agreement or declaration that creates a beneficial interest in another. "Trustee" includes a successor trustee.

"User" means a person that has an account with a custodian.

"Will" includes a codicil, testamentary instrument that only appoints an executor, and instrument that revokes or revises a testamentary instrument.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-117. Applicability.

A. This article applies to:

1. A fiduciary acting under a will or power of attorney executed before, on, or after July 1, 2017;

2. A personal representative acting for a decedent who died before, on, or after July 1, 2017;

3. A conservatorship proceeding commenced before, on, or after July 1, 2017;

4. A guardianship proceeding commenced before, on, or after July 1, 2017; and

5. A trustee acting under a trust created before, on, or after July 1, 2017.

B. This article applies to a custodian if the user resides in the Commonwealth or resided in the Commonwealth at the time of the user's death.

C. This article does not apply to a digital asset of an employer used by an employee in the ordinary course of the employer's business.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-118. User direction for disclosure of digital assets.

A. 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 online tool allows the user to modify or delete a direction at all times, a direction regarding disclosure using an online tool overrides a contrary direction by the user in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record.

B. If a user has not used an online tool to give direction under subsection A or if the custodian has not provided an online tool, the user may allow or prohibit in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record disclosure to a fiduciary of some or all of the user's digital assets, including the content of electronic communications sent or received by the user.

C. A user's direction under subsection A or B overrides a contrary provision in a terms-of-service agreement that does not require the user to act affirmatively and distinctly from the user's assent to the terms of service.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-119. Terms-of-service agreement.

A. This article does not change or impair a right of a custodian or a user under a terms-of-service agreement to access and use digital assets of the user.

B. This article does not give a fiduciary or a designated recipient any new or expanded rights other than those held by the user for whom, or for whose estate, the fiduciary or designated recipient acts or represents.

C. A fiduciary's or designated recipient's access to digital assets may be modified or eliminated by a user, by federal law, or by a terms-of-service agreement if the user has not provided direction under § 64.2-118.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-120. Procedure for disclosing digital assets.

A. When disclosing digital assets of a user under this article, the custodian may, at its sole discretion:

1. Grant a fiduciary or designated recipient full access to the user's account;

2. Grant a fiduciary or designated recipient partial access to the user's account sufficient to perform the tasks with which the fiduciary or designated recipient is charged; or

3. Provide a fiduciary or designated recipient a copy in a record of any digital asset that, on the date the custodian received the request for disclosure, the user could have accessed if the user were alive and had full capacity and access to the account.

B. A custodian may assess a reasonable administrative charge for the cost of disclosing digital assets under this article.

C. A custodian need not disclose under this article a digital asset deleted by a user.

D. If a user directs or a fiduciary requests a custodian to disclose under this article some, but not all, of the user's digital assets, the custodian need not disclose the assets if segregation of the assets would impose an undue burden on the custodian. If the custodian believes the direction or request imposes an undue burden, the custodian or fiduciary may seek an order from the court to disclose:

1. A subset limited by date of the user's digital assets;

2. All of the user's digital assets to the fiduciary or designated recipient;

3. None of the user's digital assets; or

4. All of the user's digital assets to the court for review in camera.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-121. Disclosure of content of electronic communications of deceased user.

If a deceased user consented to or a court directs disclosure of the contents of electronic communications of the user, the custodian shall disclose to the personal representative of the estate of the user the content of electronic communications sent or received by the user if the representative gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. A certified copy of the death certificate of the user;

3. A certified copy of the letter of appointment of the representative or a small-estate affidavit or court order;

4. Unless the user provided direction using an online tool, a copy of the user's will, trust, power of attorney, or other record evidencing the user's consent to disclosure of the content of electronic communications; and

5. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the user's account;

b. Evidence linking the account to the user; or

c. A finding by the court that (i) the user had a specific account with the custodian, identifiable by the information specified in subdivision a; (ii) disclosure of the content of electronic communications of the user would not violate 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., 47 U.S.C. § 222, or other applicable law; (iii) unless the user provided direction using an online tool, the user consented to disclosure of the content of electronic communications; or (iv) disclosure of the content of electronic communications of the user is reasonably necessary for administration of the estate.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-122. Disclosure of other digital assets of deceased user.

Unless the user prohibited disclosure of digital assets or the court directs otherwise, a custodian shall disclose to the personal representative of the estate of a deceased user a catalog of electronic communications sent or received by the user and digital assets, other than the content of electronic communications, of the user, if the representative gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. A certified copy of the death certificate of the user;

3. A certified copy of the letter of appointment of the representative or a small-estate affidavit or court order; and

4. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the user's account;

b. Evidence linking the account to the user;

c. An affidavit stating that disclosure of the user's digital assets is reasonably necessary for administration of the estate; or

d. A finding by the court that (i) the user had a specific account with the custodian, identifiable by the information specified in subdivision a or (ii) disclosure of the user's digital assets is reasonably necessary for administration of the estate.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-123. Disclosure of content of electronic communications of principal.

To the extent that a power of attorney expressly grants an agent authority over the content of electronic communications sent or received by the principal and unless directed otherwise by the principal or the court, a custodian shall disclose to the agent the content if the agent gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. An original or copy of the power of attorney expressly granting the agent authority over the content of electronic communications of the principal;

3. A certification by the agent that the power of attorney is in effect; and

4. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the principal's account; or

b. Evidence linking the account to the principal.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-124. Disclosure of other digital assets of principal.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, directed by the principal, or provided by a power of attorney, a custodian shall disclose to an agent with specific authority over digital assets or general authority to act on behalf of a principal a catalog of electronic communications sent or received by the principal and digital assets, other than the content of electronic communications, of the principal if the agent gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. An original or copy of the power of attorney that gives the agent specific authority over digital assets or general authority to act on behalf of the principal;

3. A certification by the agent that the power of attorney is in effect; and

4. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the principal's account; or

b. Evidence linking the account to the principal.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-125. Disclosure of digital assets held in trust when trustee is original user.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court or provided in a trust, a custodian shall disclose to a trustee that is an original user of an account any digital asset of the account held in trust, including a catalog of electronic communications of the trustee and the content of electronic communications.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-126. Disclosure of contents of electronic communications held in trust when trustee is not original user.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, directed by the user, or provided in a trust, a custodian shall disclose to a trustee that is not an original user of an account the content of electronic communications sent or received by an original or successor user and carried, maintained, processed, received, or stored by the custodian in the account of the trust if the trustee gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. A certified copy of the trust instrument, or a certification of the trust under § 64.2-804 that includes consent to disclosure of the content of electronic communications to the trustee;

3. A certification by the trustee that the trust exists and the trustee is a currently acting trustee of the trust; and

4. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the trust's account; or

b. Evidence linking the account to the trust.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-127. Disclosure of other digital assets held in trust when trustee is not original user.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, directed by the user, or provided in a trust, a custodian shall disclose, to a trustee that is not an original user of an account, a catalog of electronic communications sent or received by an original or successor user and stored, carried, or maintained by the custodian in an account of the trust and any digital assets, other than the content of electronic communications, in which the trust has a right or interest if the trustee gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. A certified copy of the trust instrument or a certification of the trust under § 64.2-804;

3. A certification by the trustee that the trust exists and the trustee is a currently acting trustee of the trust; and

4. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the trust's account; or

b. Evidence linking the account to the trust.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-128. Disclosure of digital assets to conservator or guardian of protected person.

A. After an opportunity for a hearing under Chapter 20 (§ 64.2-2000 et seq.), the court may grant a conservator or guardian access to the digital assets of a protected person.

B. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or directed by the user, a custodian shall disclose to a conservator or guardian the catalog of electronic communications sent or received by a protected person and any digital assets, other than the content of electronic communications, in which the protected person has a right or interest if the conservator or guardian gives the custodian:

1. A written request for disclosure in physical or electronic form;

2. A certified copy of the court order that gives the conservator or guardian authority over the digital assets of the protected person; and

3. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the account of the protected person; or

b. Evidence linking the account to the protected person.

C. A conservator with general authority to manage the assets of a protected person or a guardian with specific authority granted by the court may request a custodian of the digital assets of the protected person to suspend or terminate an account of the protected person for good cause. A request made under this section shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the court order giving the conservator or guardian authority over the protected person's property.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-129. Fiduciary duty and authority.

A. The legal duties imposed on a fiduciary charged with managing tangible property apply to the management of digital assets, including:

1. The duty of care;

2. The duty of loyalty; and

3. The duty of confidentiality.

B. A fiduciary's or designated recipient's authority with respect to a digital asset of a user:

1. Except as otherwise provided in § 64.2-118, is subject to the applicable terms-of-service agreement;

2. Is subject to other applicable law, including copyright law;

3. In the case of a fiduciary, is limited by the scope of the fiduciary's duties; and

4. May not be used to impersonate the user.

C. A fiduciary with authority over the property of a decedent, protected person, principal, or settlor has the right to access any digital asset in which the decedent, protected person, principal, or settlor had a right or interest and that is not held by a custodian or subject to a terms-of-service agreement.

D. A fiduciary acting within the scope of the fiduciary's duties is an authorized user of the property of the decedent, protected person, principal, or settlor for the purpose of applicable computer-fraud and unauthorized computer-access laws, including Article 7.1 (§ 18.2-152.1 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 18.2.

E. A fiduciary with authority over the tangible personal property of a decedent, protected person, principal, or settlor:

1. Has the right to access the property and any digital asset stored in it; and

2. Is an authorized user for the purposes of computer-fraud and unauthorized computer-access laws, including Article 7.1 (§ 18.2-152.1 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 18.2.

F. A custodian may disclose information in an account to a fiduciary of the user when the information is required to terminate an account used to access digital assets licensed to the user.

G. A fiduciary of a user may request a custodian to terminate the user's account. A request for termination shall be in writing, in either physical or electronic form, and accompanied by:

1. If the user is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate of the user;

2. A certified copy of the letter of appointment of the representative or a small-estate affidavit or court order, court order, power of attorney, or trust giving the fiduciary authority over the account; and

3. If requested by the custodian:

a. A number, username, address, or other unique subscriber or account identifier assigned by the custodian to identify the user's account;

b. Evidence linking the account to the user; or

c. A finding by the court that the user had a specific account with the custodian, identifiable by the information specified in subdivision a.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-130. Custodian compliance and immunity.

A. Not later than 60 days after receipt of the information required under §§ 64.2-121 through 64.2-129, a custodian shall comply with a request under this article from a fiduciary or designated recipient to disclose digital assets or terminate an account. If the custodian fails to comply, the fiduciary or designated recipient may apply to the court for an order directing compliance.

B. An order under subsection A directing compliance shall contain a finding that compliance is not in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2702.

C. A custodian may notify the user that a request for disclosure or to terminate an account was made under this article.

D. A custodian may deny a request under this article from a fiduciary or designated recipient for disclosure of digital assets or to terminate an account if the custodian is aware of any lawful access to the account following the receipt of the fiduciary's request.

E. This article does not limit a custodian's ability to obtain or require a fiduciary or designated recipient requesting disclosure or termination under this article to obtain a court order that:

1. Specifies that an account belongs to a protected person or principal;

2. Specifies that there is sufficient consent from the protected person or principal to support the requested disclosure; and

3. Contains a finding required by law other than this article.

F. A custodian and its officer, employees, and agents are immune from liability for an act or omission done in good faith in compliance with this article.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-131. Uniformity of application and construction.

In applying and construing this article, consideration shall be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among states that enact it.

2017, cc. 33, 80.

§ 64.2-132. Relation to Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.

This article modifies, limits, or supersedes the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7001 et seq., but does not modify, limit, or supersede § 101(c) of that act, 15 U.S.C. § 7001(c), or authorize electronic delivery of any of the notices described in § 103(b) of that act, 15 U.S.C. § 7003(b).

2017, cc. 33, 80.

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