Book Review: The Digital Estate, 2nd Edition

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners, Probate, Trusts, Wills

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the digital estate 2nd editionThis is a book review by Gill Steel of The Digital Estate, 2nd Edition Thomson Reuters by Leigh Sagar & Jack Burroughs.

Purpose

The authors, Leigh Sagar of New Square Chambers and Jack Burroughs TEP Solicitor at the Country Land and Business Owners Association, have significantly extended the text of this valuable book in its 2nd edition. It examines the law of digital assets with particular reference to the activities, powers and duties of personal representative, trustees, attorneys and deputies.

Content

The text is divided into four parts:

  • Part 1 – is an introduction to the computer side of things with explanations of how computers work, the Internet and definitions of digital assets, digital records and digital property rights and interests, as referred to in this book.
    It also contains chapters on different types of fiduciaries and electronic documents and signatures.
  • Part II – covers Information of various kinds. There is a useful chapter on Intellectual Property.
  • Part III – deals with the new world of digital finance, decentralised digital assets and decentralised finance.
  • Part IV – is a valuable section on Estate Planning and includes chapters on drafting for the digital estate, Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Estate Planning with Cryptoassets.

Structure & Layout

Each of the 10 chapters in the book starts with a summary of the contents of that chapter. There are sub-headings, and each paragraph of the text is numbered for ease of locating the relevant text. Footnotes are used for references, which include many different legal cases.

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Tools

There are one or two diagrams and a glossary of legal terminology as well as the usual indexes of cases, statutes and statutory instruments.

Clarity & readability

This book addresses many of the modern private client practitioner’s dilemmas regarding digital assets. It contains a useful exposition of what trustee powers of investment mean in relation to crypto assets and addresses the considerations that a trustee needs to make before ever taking the plunge into this market.

Another good example, would be the explanation of the complexities of dealing with crypto assets in estates and the need to consider (in the absence of specific statutory powers) extra administrative provisions in Wills to enable PRs to arrange the closure of digital accounts.

Relevance to practitioners

Apart from providing an explanation of many digital assets and the activities around them it provides particularly useful guidance for drafting documentation for fiduciaries when dealing with digital assets, which many practitioners will appreciate.

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