Cryptocurrency and digital assets in estate administration

Technology has moved very quickly over the past few decades and continues to gather pace, changing the ways in which we live our lives in many different areas. Whether it’s sharing our lives, information and images on social media or using blockchain currencies, the digital landscape is an important part of many people’s day-to-day life.

It’s a common concern that the law isn’t keeping pace with this technology, and therefore many people worry about whether there are adequate protections in place for them around things such as social media and cryptocurrency as there are in other areas of life. This is never more true than when it comes to managing someone’s estate after they have passed away. If a loved one has died, managing digital assets and accounts can be complex.

We look at some increasingly common issues in relation to the digital world and estate management and what legal support might be available to help:

Can you leave cryptocurrency in a Will?

While not being subject to the same Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations as many financial products and investments, cryptocurrency is a personal asset and therefore can be included when writing a Will. There will need to be provisions made for the executor of the Will to gain access to digital wallet login information and any security details needed to access the funds, along with instructions for how to do so. This information shouldn’t be included in the Will itself, but in a memorandum to the Will.

If someone who owns cryptocurrency as part of their estate dies without a Will, or didn’t include the crypto accounts or details for the executor to deal with, the money may not be accessible at all. It therefore important for anyone with cryptocurrency to ensure that provisions are made for this in their Will.

This is something that the team at Gamlins can help with, to ensure that your future planning includes provisions for any cryptocurrency or other digital assets that you own, so that your wishes can be followed, after you pass away.

What to do with security information about digital assets

Because digital assets don’t have a physical form, they can’t be kept in a lockable safe or any other usual secure location you might use for valuables. As they are stored online or ‘in the cloud’ in what is known as digital wallets or in an online cryptocurrency platform, they can only be accessed with the right information, often called a ‘key’, which is a long combination of characters.

This key must be kept safe as the cryptocurrency cannot be accessed without it. A good option can be to ensure that your solicitor has a backup copy of this key, stored securely.

Ensuring that your Will includes up-to-date details of how to access any security information needed to gain control of your digital assets is important, as otherwise that asset could simply be lost if you were to pass away suddenly.

If you would like to find out how we can help you plan your estate, including how to best manage any digital assets you own, our team can help. Get in touch today.

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