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Can You Inherit Bitcoin?


Most people focus on a narrow range of items that can make a person wealthy, such as cash, real estate properties, gold, and stocks.  It is easy to scoff when someone boasts about their wealth in a form that you would not think of as valuable.  Laugh all you want at the coupon clippers and the chasers of reward points until they come home from CVS with a car full of merchandise that set them back a total of twenty cents or enough free food from McDonald’s to feed everyone on your block.  Roll your eyes all you want about frequent flier miles, but they have enabled some people to visit dozens of countries for a trivial amount of money.  It might seem silly when someone brags about their collection of collectibles, but remember that back in the 1990s, a feud over valuable Beanie Babies led to at least one murder.  Despite what the flip phone crowd tried to tell you during the Obama administration, cryptocurrencies are here to stay.  Yes, their value fluctuates, but investing in them makes no more and no less sense than investing in the stock market.  They have been around so long that the law has had to deal with the question of what happens when the owner of a cryptocurrency digital wallet dies.  The short answer is that it depends on what the decedent did during his or her lifetime to determine the afterlife of the digital wallet.  If you own digital currency, a Washington DC estate planning lawyer can help you ensure that the people you trust the most can access your cryptocurrency assets after you die but not before.

How Does Your Cryptocurrency Get to Your Heirs?

One of the most appealing things about cryptocurrency is its secrecy; to this day, no one is sure of the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of the 2008 white paper that introduced Bitcoin to the world.  While some cryptocurrencies are easier to find than others (in terms of people other than the owner of a digital wallet being able to prove that the digital wallet exists), it is not possible to access the cryptocurrency funds in a digital wallet except by entering the digital key.

Legal, cryptocurrency counts as an asset, just like a painting or a baseball card collection.  It becomes part of the owner’s estate when the owner dies and becomes the property of the beneficiary designated in the decedent’s will when the estate settles.  Your estate plan should include provisions for accessing your digital key.  For example, you can use a password manager app like Keeper, or you can store your digital key in a Coinbase vault, with instructions in your will for the personal representative of your estate to find it there when your estate opens for probate.  It is also possible to keep cryptocurrency digital wallets out of probate by placing them in a trust.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. About Digital Estate Planning

An estate planning lawyer can help you convey your cryptocurrency and other valuable possessions to your designated heirs.  Contact Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. for help today.



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