Bitcoins: Will They Be Lost if You Don’t Have a Plan?

It sometimes seems we’ve been invaded by technology. From books to entertainment to education, digital is the way to go. In fact, even our wallets have been affected. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, though somewhat controversial, are becoming more commonplace. Aside from the digital aspect of bitcoins, you need to remember that they are an asset, potentially an estate asset. As such, you’ll need to include bitcoins or other cryptocurrency in your estate plan, if you happen to own any.

Understanding Cryptocurrency

Bitcoins are one form of anonymous digital currency. Others include Ether, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. Some feel that, rather than a currency, bitcoin is more of a commodity or an investment. Rather than a tangible coin, bitcoin is a way of “exchanging money anonymously” using the Internet. No matter what it’s called, bitcoins have a value. Therefore, they may be considered estate assets.

Most people keep their digital currency in a digital wallet. Again, not a typical wallet, but a way of storing bitcoins using software or hardware. A private password or key enables the bitcoin owner to access their money. Owners who lose their password or key may be unable to ever retrieve their money, which brings us to estate planning.

Estate Planning for Your Bitcoins

Most financial institutions allow and even encourage account holders to name beneficiaries for their accounts. Typically, digital currency exchanges do not ask owners to name a beneficiary. Bitcoins are often purchased without using any personal information, which could make it difficult or impossible to identify the owner.

With all the secrecy surrounding cryptocurrency, how can you ensure your family can include them with your estate assets?

Like any other digital asset, your family or personal representative needs to know how to locate and retrieve the asset. Make bitcoins part of your digital asset inventory. Additionally, especially if you own large amounts of bitcoins, talk to your estate planning attorney about revising your Will and any trusts that may be affected by your investment. Just don’t list any secret keys or login information in your Will. During probate, your Will and everything in it become public record.

Estate Planning Should Cover All Your Assets.

John Mangan is an experienced Florida estate planning attorney, who has been board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we have mastered advanced estate planning. Call us at 772-324-9050 to set up an appointment or use our online Contact Form.

 

For more information about digital assets:

Digital Assets and Florida Law

Your Digital Assets Inventory

Written by John Mangan, Esq.

John Mangan, Esq.

I’m an attorney in Palm City, FL, and I serve clients throughout Martin County, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, and Indiantown, as well as those in St. Lucie County, the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach County, and other parts of Florida. The Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., is an innovative firm providing estate planning services to clients in Florida. We focus primarily on wills, trusts, asset protection, guardianship, and probate administration.