What Happens To My Crypto When I Die?

What really happens to my cryptocurrency when I die? Can I pass it to my loved ones and if so how?

Cryptocurrency is all the rage. There are great risks but great rewards. Decentralized currencies and the decentralized finance network along with smart contracts will change the way we buy goods, invest, borrow money, and even buy insurance. Many of our client’s own cryptocurrency but most have no idea how to include it in their estate plan. The future of blockchain currency and finance is here, right now. Let’s talk about some traditional legal tools that can effectively leave a crypto legacy for your loved ones and some new tools that are on the horizon.

Can I pass Crypto in a will?

You may pass your cryptocurrency in a will similar to how you pass other assets. However, precautions should be taken. A separate writing with accounts and passwords should be created but not filed with the will when you pass away. This document may be referenced but should not be filed in the public court record. This separate document will be the keys to your digital accounts and allow your executor ones to access them and pass them to your heirs in shares of your choice. Any factor authentication process should be explained and devices to be used for this process specified. Most popular crypto trading platforms like Coinbase have a process whereby an executor may access accounts upon proving their court granted authority. The drawback of passing your cryptocurrency with a will is that it is subjected to the rather lengthy probate process whereas a trust avoids the court probate process altogether.

Can I pass Crypto in a trust?

A trust can actually own a crypto account or rather, a cryptocurrency account may be created in the name of that trust allowing the trustee to manage that account during life the same as their personal account. Upon death, the successor trustee(s) would take over control of the account or multiple accounts and continue to administer those accounts as per the rules set up in the trust. The trust administration process may be carried out by the trustee, often with guidance from an attorney. Should you specify your beneficiaries to receive your crypto holdings and in what shares in the trust document, the trustee is bound, legally, to ensure those beneficiaries receive their specified share in a timely manner.

The same precautions should be taken with the trust as with the will, although the trust is not generally filed in a court probate proceeding. A separate writing with accounts and passwords should be created that will be referenced in the trust. Any factor authentication process should be explained and devices to be used for this process specified.

What is a Digital Blockchain Trust?

Theoretically, a Digital Blockchain Trust or DBT for short, is a type of digital instrument that holds information. The information tracks your crypto holdings and acts based on certain information. For example, if you were to pass away, the DBT, once it verifies your demise as a Verifiable Death Event (VDE), would instantly preform a set of preset instructions. You may set up the DBT to instantly split 20% of your crypto holdings and send it to a charity of your preselected choice. The other 80% being split amongst your children who will receive an email, text, or additional type of communication that prompts them to set up a password to access their Sub Trust Wallet (STW). The STW would require them to verify their identity through a set of pre-scripted identity verification points (IVPs) and set up their password and two factor authentication methods to access their very own digital crypto wallet. An alternative to this would be to send their percentage of your crypto in the DBT to their existing crypto wallet. Let’s say you have college age children and don’t want to give them everything all at once. You can easily build your DBT to make deposits to the STW for each child over time, let’s say a period of years. You may choose to giver the 10% of their share per year for the next 10 years starting when they reach 25 years of age. Walla, your trust has been administered.

What is missing here? Well, a human trustee would generally handle all the trust administration. However, in a DBT the trustee is essentially the information or set of instructions encoded in the DBT. The DBT acts on your preset instructions. This avoids any chance of fraud or misuse of funds by a trustee and ensures that the instructions encoded in your DBT are carried out exactly as you intended. You are essentially acting as the trustee through the DBT after you have passed away. This is a massive improvement over traditional trust documents and is the future of estate planning.


As more and more assets move to a digital blockchain world the ability to safely and securely administer these assets when the asset owner passes away will become increasingly important. We intend to be at the forefront of this new(ish) blockchain frontier. Please contact our office for a free in person, virtual or phone consultation to begin planning for your future today. You may put off planning for the future, but the future has a plan for you either way. It’s your digital choice.

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written by:

Greg McIntyre

Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney


in Estate Planning, Tax Planning by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment
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