And in a flash, it’s gone

24

You may remember three weeks ago, the 30-year-old founder of QuadrigaCX, Gerald Cotton of the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, died suddenly.  Unfortunately for his shocked heirs and investors, he took the whereabouts of some 188 million dollars in cryptocurrency to his grave.

Cryptocurrency is a form of Internet currency.  Bitcoin is the most common example of a cryptocurrency.  If you own cryptocurrency, or are thinking about investing in digital currency, you will need a technical access plan, meaning a way to ensure your successors can access your digital wealth for your Executor or Trustee.

  1. Make sure your executor or trustee is aware your bitcoin exists.  If you tend to be private, your loved ones may never even know that you have bitcoin. Due to the anonymous nature of bitcoin, if they aren’t aware of it, your bitcoin will die with you. To avoid this result, set up some method of informing your loved ones that you’re a bitcoin holder.
  2. Make sure your executor or trustee can get your ‘private key’.  Bitcoin isn’t like a bank account where your loved ones can simply contact the institution once your will has been probated. Without your private key, your executor will be totally powerless to distribute your bitcoin under the terms of your will.
  3. Make sure your power of attorney allows your agent to access your bitcoin.    Many of us have a power of attorney in place that allows someone to handle our legal and financial affairs if we’re alive, but incapacitated. This person may also need to handle your bitcoin. To make sure this happens, make sure your power of attorney document explicitly allows your agent to access either your bitcoin specifically, or your digital assets broadly. Additionally, like your executor, your agent under your power of attorney is going to need access to your private key or login information.

In simple terms, if you’ve invested in bitcoin, or any of the other available cryptocurrencies, whatever sum of money you’ve amassed can and will be lost if you were to pass away without providing the means to access your crypto “wallet” to your heirs. Be Educated! Be Proactive!

Take it for what it is…it’s just as I see it.

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Leonard F. Baer
Leonard Baer's practice focuses on Elder Law, and Estate Planning. His previous experience was in the area of complex criminal litigation, serving as Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division for The United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Baer was recognized by the Office of The Attorney General, as one of the top prosecutors in the country during his tenure. He has been included in North Carolina Top Rated Lawyers, a distinction awarded to those lawyers recognized by their colleagues as leaders in their field. He has also been recognized by the Florida Bar, for his efforts in representing seniors and their families, who are victims of scams and fraud. Mr. Baer is an AV rated lawyer listed in Martindale-Hubbell, and has been selected for inclusion in their Bar Registrar of Preeminent Lawyers, which for over 90 years, includes only those select law practices that have earned their highest rating. He has been designated by Martindale-Hubbell as preeminent in his field, and in the top 5% of all lawyers practicing in the United States. Mr. Baer has also been ranked by AVVO, an online Legal Directory of over 200,000 lawyers nationally, as Superb, their highest rating. He served as adjunct professor of Sports Law at The University of Miami, and is a frequent lecturer on the topics of Elder Law, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Fraud Protection. He has been a columnist for several newspapers for over 13 years and currently has a nationally syndicated blog, “As I See It” with a readership of over 25,000.

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