Tags: Money & finances Estate planning Financial advice

The anonymity of cryptocurrencies is a major factor in their success, but presents a unique set of challenges for estate planning.

With the advent of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin in 2009, cryptoassets have grown to become a digital asset that everyone can possess. 

Between daily changes to assets and the vast array of currencies available on the market, it is often difficult for investors to record their cryptoassets. This area is something estate planning lawyers are only just coming to understand.

Older man and woman standing at kitchen bench, looking at laptop screen

While the anonymous nature of transactions is certainly one of cryptocurrency’s biggest selling points, this aspect does present challenges when it comes to estate planning.

It is a hot topic, and there is not yet a lot of practical experience in this space. Markets are learning as they grow, and also, learning as they crash. People are buying cryptoassets and there’s not necessarily a lot of evidence outside of their own records as to what they actually have at any given point. 

Digital wallets are used to store, send and receive cryptoassets. These wallets have keys which are used to authorise transactions, and these keys should not be stored in public documents so record keeping is quite difficult to unlock when required by a third party.

A Will, once probated, becomes a public document and while you may note that you own Bitcoin or Ethereum, you should not write the keys into your Will itself. Doing so could be a breach to your assets’ security.

With the provision of PINs, passwords and asset codes presenting security and theft risks, estate planners generally advise against making this information public. The same can be said of cryptoasset wallet keys.

The difficulty of ensuring that beneficiaries are able to access keys and wallets while maintaining the asset’s security is further heightened by the constantly changing nature of these assets.

These cryptoassets are changing daily and therefore if you want to keep records for access in the event you might lose capacity or pass away, you will be constantly updating said records.

If your attorney or executor cannot access this information, in a worst-case scenario, it is gone.

While cryptocurrency will not fundamentally change the nature of estate planning, it will change how some clients choose to secure their assets.

If you have cryptoassets in your investment portfolio, consider having a conversation with your estate planning lawyer regarding the storage and accessibility of your asset keys. 

Disclaimer: Any advice in this document is general advice only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You should obtain financial advice relevant to your circumstances before making investment decisions. Where a particular financial product is mentioned you should consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making any decisions in relation to the product. Whilst every reasonable care has been taken in distributing this article, Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained within it. Any views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd. Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd does not guarantee any particular outcome or future performance. Taxation Information in this document should not be relied upon without seeking specialist advice from a tax professional. Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd ABN 26 098 725 145, AFSL & Australian Credit Licence No. 234459.