What will happen to my bitcoin and other assets when I die?
This is a question most of us want to avoid, because we don’t know, because we don’t like to think about death, because we can think of 100 other more fun things to contemplate -like all the drama surrounding 2X and who said what on twitter or reddit. But with self-controlled assets, ignoring our own mortality comes at a cost to our descendants, dependents, community groups, and political causes because our keys, and therefore access to the assets, could die with us. But it doesn’t have to be that way, there are simple, easy things you can do yourself to prevent this from happening and that’s what you’ll learn if you continue reading.
Before we look at the how, let’s look closer at why.
The short answer is that by planning, you have choices you don’t otherwise have. Did you know that if you die without a will, or testament as it’s sometimes called, local law decides how your assets are divided? These laws are called laws of intestacy and what you need to know is that most of them only recognize formal legal relations — meaning relations by blood or marriage. Your long-term, live-in domestic partner? No. Your best friend since preschool? No. Your children through marriage? No. Your favorite charity, community center, or political cause? No. Even if you’re not concerned about how your assets will be allocated, if you have children, consider writing a will to designate someone to care for your children if both parents die. While that has nothing to do with crypto, it’s something those of you with children should think about.
Moving back to cryptocurrency, because these assets are not controlled by a third party, there is no third party to comply with a court order to release the assets to your heirs. The assets will only be available to your heirs if you have made a plan. If you have instructed them, in some way, about what you have and how to access it. This does not mean you have to disclose your keys and plans before you die, more about that later.
The take-away here is that planning places you in control. With a plan, you get to decide if and how your own assets will be distributed. Isn’t that how things should be?