Estate Planning & Cryptocurrency

Put simply, a cryptocurrency is a digital form of money characterized by its decentralized control and use of distrusted ledger technology (a fancy term for a public financial transaction database).

Cryptocurrencies are secured through complex encryption schemes of cryptography making them extremely hard to counterfeit. So long as the owner maintains control of their account cryptocurrencies are totally secure. With their explosion in popularity and value over the past several years, it is important to consider the implications of cryptocurrency for your estate plan.

Digital currency is currently treated as personal property by the IRS and it should, therefore, be treated as such in your estate plan.

One of the main selling points of the most popular cryptocurrencies is their anonymity. The currencies can be generated, acquired, and spent anonymously. But that means if you die owning cryptocurrency any and haven’t told anyone or made a record, they will die with you.

While overly publicizing ownership of cryptocurrency somewhat defeats its purpose, the legal professional drafting your estate plan and the executor of your estate requires all your financial information and therefore should be trustworthy enough to handle this.

After ensuring knowledge of your possession exists and will be passed on, the next step is securing access to your virtual “wallet.”

Unlike any other traditional assets, there is no office or bank for an executor to contact in order to establish ownership and value. Cryptocurrencies are secured through a private key that normally only the owner knows.

Common solutions to the problem of a password that cannot be reset and should not be kept physically include storing the information in a safe deposit box or secure digital archive site.

It is crucial to make sure your attorney or Personal Representative can access this information, how/wherever it is stored.

Other major concerns regarding cryptocurrency and your estate involve its value.

By their very nature, the worth of a cryptocurrency is more volatile than a typical investment. It is therefore important to remember the relevant value for estate tax and distribution of asset purposes is what the cryptocurrency is worth at the time of your death, not what you paid for it.

Accordingly, a periodic review of the value of your assets and updating your estate plans to reflect any changes is important.

Finally, you should consider what you do with cryptocurrency in your plan.

Not everyone is familiar with the idea of anonymous digital currency or comfortable with having what is essentially a large pile of cash outside of a bank. A good estate plan will consider all these potential issues and will leave the asset to someone fluent with this type of currency or leave instructions for its conversion into a more traditional asset. It is, however, important to remember, as a personal asset, cryptocurrency does not need to be declared as income on a tax return, but if it is bequeathed as or converted into cash it does.

For all of your estate planning needs, crypto or otherwise, contact contact Abraham & Bauer today.

Planning ahead is a gift to your loved ones!