It seems like every aspect of our lives is becoming digitized. Entirely within the Internet context, we can communicate with our friends, market ourselves for a new job, and even share intimate details of our personal lives through social media sharing. As all-encompassing as that may seem, the digital world’s effect on our lives doesn’t stop there. For example, even our money is becoming digitized through cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
While there has been a lot of attention lately on the significant swings in these currencies’ value, there is another matter that very few have adequately considered: how these cryptocurrencies are handled upon one’s death. Whereas many investment plans require an individual to name a beneficiary, these cryptocurrencies do not. Therefore, when an individual dies without a will and without notifying his or her loved ones that the cryptocurrency exists, the currency can be lost.
To prevent this from occurring, those who own Bitcoin and other similar cryptocurrencies should be sure to take certain steps. First, these individuals need to make sure that they write down their private digital key, which is required for an individual to access the currency. Then, these currency-holders should treat the currency just like any other piece of physical property. This means including it in wills and trusts. When addressing this matter, estate planners should consider it as part of a holistic approach to digital assets, which may include photographs and social media accounts.
Estate planning, on its face, may seem relatively simple. But time and again, we see New Yorkers struggle to ensure that their assets are fully protected and prepared for distribution in accordance with their wishes upon their death. However, by discussing these matters with an experienced estate planning attorney, New Yorkers can create a plan that works to further their best interests as well as those of their beneficiaries. Although it may be difficult to confront one’s own mortality, creating a solid estate plan can actually put one’s mind at ease, thereby allowing one to focus on enjoying life.