Let’s face it – we humans have a proven mortality rate of 100%. Despite one or the other of our readers might find this topic kinda morbid, we must dare to ask for the answer what happens with your cryptocurrency holdings when we die. You probably have a family around you and you probably use cryptocurrency to invest in your and your families future.
With the exploding growth rates in the past and the awareness that we are still in the early adopter stage, it seems to make sense to invest a part of your savings into promising blockchain projects by purchasing and holding coins and tokens. Whilst it is another question which coins to hold for the long run (we will feature this soon), there is a more basic question to answer before.
Imagine you built a strong and growing portfolio. As you are smart you don’t leave the coins and tokens within an exchange and withdrew them to your wallet(s), having the good feeling to save them in a secure storage. No matter if you are run over by a truck or got hit by a piano which has been dropped from the 5th floor – it will be difficult to inherit your family the wealth you accumulated with your crypto portfolio.
There is likely a growing amount of orphaned wallets within the next decades – money that will never do anything anymore. Our goal with this post is it, to enable and motivate you preparing a document, you can simply pass over for the case that anything tragical will happen to you.
Cryptocurrency coins and tokens are not (yet) regulated by any authority and it will be hard for your family to claim any of your holdings in a legal way if you pass away. What we need is a document, that enables your beloved ones to get ahold of your crypto belongings, by providing all needed data to withdraw them.
There are times when emergencies occur in our lives. When we die, our investments can either be protected or in an unorganized state that might leave your family fighting over who gets what or even who gets anything.
To prevent this issue, it’s best that you start making the steps now to protect your crypto assets. And in this guide, we’re here to help you along each step on the way.
What Happens To My Crypto Assets When I Die?
Cryptocurrencies are unique investments because of the inclusion of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is a revolutionary concept as it allows crypto investors to encrypt their assets and is a good investment to see your money grow over time.
Here’s an example situation in regards to crypto inheritance:
Bill bought Bitcoin in 2016 for about $2,000. After investing, he did his best to keep his crypto assets secure by enabling a Two-Factor Authenticator security system and protected his private keys.
Bill did everything and had hopes that his children will benefit from his investments. After his unexpected death, Bill didn’t pass his security information to his children, an executor of his estate, or a trusted friend. As a result, Bill’s children were unable to access their father’s investment portfolio.
You don’t want to experience this scenario. Since your crypto assets are encrypted, it will be difficult for them to receive them unless you directly tell them your keys. Be proactive by taking the following steps to pass your crypto inheritance to your children.
So what would happen in such a case? You coins would collect dust on the blockchain. There are thousands of Bitcoins laying around, which nobody can access anymore… Bare answer: nothing ever happens again with these funds.
How Can I Protect My Crypto Assets?
Before using any services, its best to place your important information in a written letter. This is the most transparent way to protect your accounts, and the information will be easily understood by your family. Later on in this text, we will show you how to pass this information in a safe way.
If you plan on passing your crypto kingdom to your children or grandchildren, then you need to take the following steps:
- Copy your account details, private keys, etc. (basically all of the information needed to access your crypto portfolio) on paper or in a memory stick. Make sure that the information is in your safe or sent to an executor. Doing this makes it easy for your family to access your crypto portfolio.
- Some wallets enable you to print out a paper wallet – do it! Research how these funds can be restored and write a step-by-step explanation.
- Also, make sure you contact the current holder of your private keys so that your relatives can find them. This is for the case you hold your cryptos somewhere, where you don’t have access to the private keys. However, this is not advisable in general and you should change that.
- Place your cryptos in your will. This ensures that your assets will be sent to the correct parties. Like with every last will – a clear arrangement of how to share the available assets between your loved ones is good to avoid fights and other nasty things.
- Give them withdrawal information. You should give them a list of your crypto exchange logins/wallet information so they can take the assets and convert them into fiat money. Make sure that this information is detailed so they can utilize your assets correctly.
- If you use a hardware wallet like Ledger, make sure to include a very easy to understand instruction on how to work with it. Always have the not-so-tech-savvy in mind!
Basically, you want to ask yourself the following questions and follow this route:
- Where do I hold my coins and tokens?
- If on an exchange: Write down the URLs and passwords, how to convert them into BTC on that exchanges (if it is no fiat bridge exchange like Kraken or Coinbase) and how to transfer them to e.g. Coinbase and liquidate the holdings to fiat.
- If on-web wallets: Write down an explanation on how to log in, along with the private keys and how to withdraw them to a fiat bridge exchange. If you use a second password for transactions like with Blockchain.info, don’t forget to add it.
- If on hardware wallets: print out the easiest guide you can find about how to use such a wallet, along with the needed details and the directions for a fiat bridge exchange. Keep in mind this can become challenging to some, so make sure it is crystal clear.
- If you hold ICO tokens: write down an explanation on how to signup for the newsletter of the project/the social media channels, how to find the coin/token in the future on Coinmarketcap and how to find out which exchanges they have hit. Don’t forget the login data for the ICO wallets.
- Ask yourself if your directions are safe to understand – and imply solutions for cases like if a web service closes down. Did you mention alternatives? Imagine you wrote all your explanations/directions on how to convert to fiat for Mt.Gox! Crypto is (yet) an unstable field and we will see many shifts and new routes in the upcoming years – make your information future-proof. Try step-by-step guys and do them yourself to find out pitfalls and unclear wording.
All this gathered data can be saved in .txt files. Then zip this .txt files and protect the zip file with a password and save it on a USB. Find a trustee and inform him/her about that password verbally. Create a remarkable, logically built password, which she/he is likely to remember.
If you hand it to your wife, you might choose a password you both use and only you both know. A good example would be your year of birth, the name of your kids with a colon between each of them and your year of marriage at the end, e.g.: 1964Sally:Mike:Fred1987. Make it safe but not fancy-safe to reduce the chances of not recalling it. Always keep the human factor in mind and build a solution, which is equally safe and easy to use. This USB can be kept in a safe along with your last will.
Are There Any Services That Can Help?
Some reputable exchanges have policies that are made to help pass your information to your kin. But, this information isn’t readily available to the public in order to prevent fraudulent activities. Criminals could use a fake death certificate in order to obtain cryptos.
The one thing that you can do is create a strong password for all of your assets. As your investments gain in value, your passwords will have to become stronger to prevent any unauthorized access.
Do you think that your Facebook password should be the same one you use for your $100 crypto account? It is just $100, come on!
Take this rule of thumb. The higher the value of your crypto assets, the more complex your password needs to be. However, some people use the same passwords for their accounts because they’re bad at remembering them. That’s why a good password storing system could be an option to ensure that your crypto assets can be passed to your children. However, make sure to set these kinds of services up in a bullet-proof way.
One of our readers suggested that we use Last Pass to protect your crypto accounts (we’re always open to new ideas!). Here are some reasons why:
- It can create strong passwords for you, that can potentially protect your wallets/accounts from getting hacked.
Ensuring that your wealth is not lost after your death. This is important for people that are holding any crypto assets and want to pass it to their family members.
- Making a fail-safe password retrieval mechanism that gives you access to your accounts in the event that you forget the password information.
- In your Last Pass account, create an emergency email to your family member (they will also need a Last Pass account as well). By doing this, you can give them your Last Pass account information if you die. Make sure that the nominee is a trusted family member so that you can protect your assets and retrieve your information.
There is an ICO for Crypto Inheritance
Who would have thought about that actually? There is an ICO running currently, which addresses this topic: Safe Haven, which might become another option that you can use to protect your assets. They create a platform where you can transparently and safely share your private keys to your children or stakeholders.
Safe Haven aims to deliver this by utilizing their Trust Alliance Program, Escrow Protocol, and their TFC Share Distribution Key. Their main goal is to help crypto investors have power over their assets. If the investor passes, then a member of the Trust Alliance Program will pass the legacy to their stakeholders or children.
The Trust Alliance program is multiple legal entities that have a secure relationship with Safe Haven. Lastly, how does the SHA token play a role in all of this? Safe Haven’s developers explained that SHA tokens will be used as a valid payment service.
For instance, if a legal entity wants to register information in the blockchain, they will need SHA tokens to complete the procedure. This means that your information will stay protected and will require SHA tokens to make any changes to your inheritance policies.
However, we don’t vouch for that option right now – as we did not do due diligence on this one, nor is this a suggestion to invest into this ICO as we did not check it yet. The only reason for mentioning it here is as it might become a future option, which you would have to check post-ICO.
Only death and taxes… You name it. Make sure that your family is aware of the taxes they’ll have to pay when holding your crypto assets. Check the tax policies of your country and make sure that your family knows this to ensure that they meet their guidelines. As they are yet rare, you might want to research a tax consultant, which is aware of crypto and add the contact information for future references.
If you want to have this field clear for your beloved ones, you can purchase the portfolio tracker by Cointracking.info. You can connect your accounts to the tool or deploy your holdings manually and it will be able to spit out all the needed data your accountant.
In the end, your assets are an important benefit to your family. So its best to be proactive and protect them so that your kin can use them effectively. By following this guide, your assets will pass on to the next generation and help your family in the future!
Excellent article, almost all of the data was incredibly useful.
Actually. This is a good writeup and a good question we should ask our selves. What happens when we pass on with our Cryptos? Millions of Dollars worth of Cryptos are gone forever if nothing is done to reclaim them. The idea of decentralization being careless about what happens if we pass on or lose our key to our wallets is stupid in this modern civilization of stunning technology is to say the least stupid. For instance I accidentally lost my private key and password and since then can not have access to my block.io account in spite of the fact that it is a web based wallet. I think that something should be done to rectify such incidences. I have written to them several times even forwarding my confirmation email and registration to them without a useful reply. But the fact is they can help since it is a web based wallet if they want to do so.
Yeah, you are very right – however, we have to keep in mind we are in early stages and it is very likely that these pitfalls will find a solution soon.