DEATH AND CRYPTO: TRICKS OF DIGITAL ASSET INHERITANCE

Most of us never want to think about death. But while we never want to admit it, death is a certainty. We can’t’ a void it, but we also can’t always plan for it either.

And many of us seem to plan according to the belief that we’re going to live for 100 years. “Next year, next year, next year,” we keep saying to ourselves. How many times have “next year” not come for some people?

Too many to count, sorry to say.

As we get our first jobs as adults, it really would be a good idea to start putting together your assets and work on an estate plan. And it wasn’t’ that long ago that an estate pretty much consisted of a will, a deed to a home and maybe some stock certificates locked away.

When you sit and start making a list of your assets (including life insurance policies, retirement and/or investments accounts, etc.) for your estate, you may think you have everything when you look at papers. But you do have to stop and ask yourself – how do I communicate with people? Only by phone or mail?

Or course not. You have e-mail, text messages and the like. And you know what those are? Digital assets –especially your contacts lists. Oh, and your social-media accounts – after all, when you die your Facebook page doesn’t automatically go dark. Either someone has to shut it down for you, or keep it going posthumously (if it’s a page for your business, for example).

While you are on the subject of digital assets, do you happen to have investments in digital assets like cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum)? While they are alternative investments to the gold, mutual funds or stock holdings you may have, they are no less important to protect. Estate law has been trying to catch up with the evolving times in terms of ivestments and digital assets, and now it is important that you keep track of those crypto assets that you have as well.

There are estate planners who deal with crypto and other digital assets, and they advise that you have keys and passcodes of whatever crypto accounts you have and put those on paper for your executor – right alongside passwords and other access credentials for any e-mail and social-media accounts as well. And you should put something in you will giving direction as to what the executor should do with those digital assets upon your passing (sell them off, close or delete the accounts, pass them on to another family member, etc.).

Just like you never want to leave your home in probate, and you want your life insurance to go where you want it to go, you have to take the same approach with your digital assets and make sure they are disposed of the way you want – and that you provide the necessary access so those accounts may either continue on or be deleted when they are no longer being used.