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Why keeping your assets secure could cause problems for your executors when you die

View profile for Megan Ryan-Loughran
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Why keeping your assets secure could cause problems for your executors when you die

A recent article by the BBC looked at the implications of a person leaving behind assets when they die, and the difficulties in particular of their executors trying to access cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency which in recent years has become very valuable. One such type of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. To give you an idea of its value, one Bitcoin is worth over £6,500 at today’s rates.

People have invested in cryptocurrency and have become very successful in this area. Others bought into the idea years ago when it first took off in 2009 and may have forgotten all about it. It is this latter scenario that could prove concerning.

Cryptocurrency requires security verification to access, much like a pin number to access the bank, however should a person die without telling their executors or family members how to retrieve this, it is possible that it could be lost forever.

The BBC reports that it is estimated up to 3.8 million Bitcoin (worth up to £22.8 billion today) has been lost, with a lot of it suspected to have gone to the grave with people who did not leave instructions on how to access it.

How to access cryptocurrency when someone dies

If you have an iPhone, you may be familiar with the ‘Apple Wallet’ app, which lets you manage your financial affairs easily. With cryptocurrency, it is the same concept: you need to have an electronic wallet to send and receive cryptocurrency. The currency is not stored in the wallet, but the wallet holds the ‘keys’ needed to access and use the currency.

If the wallet is deleted, so is all hope of accessing the cryptocurrency, as the keys to do so will also be deleted with no way of retrieving them. If an owner of cryptocurrency dies, it is not as simple for their executors to produce evidence that the deceased had cryptocurrency (like one would if you were closing bank accounts), as one of the advantages of cryptocurrency is its security; if it was easy to access then the funds would be at risk of being stolen or hacked.

So what does this mean for you?

If you have cryptocurrency, you should definitely consider making a provision for this in your Will. The value of cryptocurrency seems to be on the rise, and should the worst happen to you, it is important that you leave clear instructions on how to access this when you are gone. This should not be included in your Will, as your Will would become public record once probate is granted, however it is possible to leave instructions in other ways.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from making a Will, Stephensons’ team of expert specialists are on hand to discuss your needs and how best to achieve these. Contact the team on 0175 321 6399.

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