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Cryptocurrency And Your Estate Plan


Any valuable asset that you own has the potential to become generational wealth.  Jewelry, furniture, paintings, and other valuables have all become the subject of hotly contested disputes during probate.  Even when the decedent’s will was clear about which family member was to inherit which item, there is still plenty of room for hard feelings and resentment about the family heirloom that you didn’t get.  Despite all the disputes that can ensue over tangible items of movable property, estate law classifies them all within the category of personal property.  Cryptocurrency, by contrast, is even more complicated, from a legal standpoint.  You can buy and sell cryptocurrency, but can you inherit it?  It definitely isn’t real estate, and it may or may not be money or personal property, so what is it?  If you own cryptocurrency, an Orlando estate planning lawyer can help ensure that your cryptocurrency wealth does not get lost in your estate plan.

What If Crypto-Assets and Probate Don’t Mix?

The beauty of cryptocurrency is that it doesn’t have physical existence; it exists purely as computer code.  A pickpocket or a burglar cannot deprive you of your cryptocurrency, the way they can your cash and valuable furniture and jewelry.  Likewise, an identity thief who steals your bank account number or social security number cannot get to your cryptocurrency.  The only way to access cryptocurrency is through an alphanumeric code called a digital key, which is not linked to your identity (which is why cryptocurrency is so popular for illegal transactions).  The point is to make it difficult for people other than the owner of the cryptocurrency to steal it or identify its owner, but if the owner dies and no one else knows the digital key, the cryptocurrency can be lost forever.

Whoever designed cryptocurrency did not have estate planning in mind.  If your will makes general provisions about the transfer of your assets, it may not be clear whether these provisions apply to your crypto-assets, such as cryptocurrency and non-currency blockchain tokens.  There is no simple solution to this problem, and laws about cryptocurrency and the inheritance thereof will likely change over the coming years.  Meanwhile, the safest option is probably to write down the digital keys to your crypto-assets, keep them in a safe place, and include instructions in your will about where the personal representative can find them.  You should also state that you authorize the personal representative of your estate to access your cryptocurrency after your death.  It is never too soon to review your will with an estate planning lawyer and to update it if necessary, but you especially have reason to do so if, since writing your will, you have acquired crypto-assets.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

An estate planning lawyer can help you navigate the laws related to ownership and inheritance of online property, including cryptocurrency and other crypto-assets.  Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.



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