Cryptocurrency has really taken off in the past ten years, and coins like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and many, many more majors, minors, and exotics have become mainstream as a form of digital currency. Crypto assets are assets, and that means that they have a purpose and a place in your estate plan, if you own them. In this guide, we’ll talk about the basics of cryptocurrency in estate planning.
Cryptocurrency is far newer than, say, money or stocks. These assets have been around for centuries, and land and property have been around for even longer. Crypto, by comparison, is very, very new. This means that crypto laws, protocol, and regulations are changing every day, and this changing nature is why it is important to contact an attorney to handle your digital asset affairs. A licensed attorney will ensure that you are properly following the law and not missing anything unintentionally that could get you in trouble later.
There are a lot of advantages to crypto, though the digital coins come with their downsides, too. Crypto can offer protection from inflation, and it is decentralized, self-governed, and private. Currency exchanges are easy to conduct and, depending on what you are buying, crypto coins are often the most cost-effective way to transact and conduct business. This guide will walk you through some of the basics of estate planning and cryptocurrency.
One of the most important things to consider when you are estate planning with crypto is to ensure that your executor (the person distributing your assets after you die in accordance with your will and other documents) knows what crypto assets you hold and how to access them. Forbes released a report recently that said that accessing crypto is the “most difficult component” to this entire process.
Investors need passwords, access codes, digital keys, and more to access their assets. They are notoriously private about these personal codes, but that privacy should not be overdone; otherwise, you risk losing everything when you die, your tokens going permanently un-invested and unused.
Writing down, on paper, your crypto keys, passwords, and all the information about how to access your tokens in a must-do. Explain the type of assets, access controls, and key locations for this digital currency. PINs, multi-signature, passphrases, time-lock requirements, and more should all go on this document. When you’re done, make copies. Store these papers in a lockbox at your bank or somewhere equally as secure.
What is Recommended?
Crypto experts in this emerging field have come up with some recommendations for estate planning with digital assets. These include:
- Making two copies
- Storing the copies in separate secure locations
- Keeping your list updated frequently
Many states have enacted laws that allow executors to manage crypto and other digital assets in the same way (or similar to, at least) that traditional assets are managed. This can help executors, who often feel the urge to sell off crypto quickly. Executors won’t feel as much backlash from heirs if currency values drop, as they won’t have sold the coins.
But again, all of this is moot unless crypto keys and other access instructions are given. A court order is impotent if you cannot access the digital assets. If you do not leave clear instructions for your executor to access your keys, you could be setting your heirs up for legal ramifications, such as a lawsuit.
This new field might be a little confusing to you, as laws change every day. Contact an attorney to learn more about how you can protect this asset in your estate plan.