Is Bitcoin Part of an Estate?

Home » Blog » Is Bitcoin Part of an Estate?
Posted on: May 9, 2022 | by: Graber & Johnson Law Group, LLC
Have you thought about what will happen to your bitcoin when you die? For many of us, the thought has at least crossed our mind.

Few bitcoin owners have seriously considered what will happen to their bitcoin when they die. A recent article titled “The Importance of Having an Estate Plan for Your Bitcoin” from Bitcoin Magazine, strongly urges owners to create a legally sound plan of action ensuring both the sovereignty and privacy of these holdings. However, many owners don’t expect to die very soon, and even those who have an estate plan haven’t considered the nuances of estate planning for digital assets. Among all digital assets, there’s no asset requiring more planning for custody and conveyance as bitcoin.

Can you use an irrevocable trust for bitcoin? This type of trust is an excellent tool for your estate plan and beneficiaries. However, for bitcoin, a revocable trust may be the better alternative. The revocable trust does not protect your assets from creditors, but it provides complete control to the grantor, the person creating the trust.

Bitcoin cannot be treated like dollars in your estate plan. If your crypto is held on an exchange like Coinbase or Gemini, your executor may not have as much of a battle to uncover and access your money. However, what if they are not? Would your executor know what to do with the seed phrases buried in the backyard, or “how to interpret BIP39 punched into steel?” These are things known only to bitcoin owners.

Digital asset estate planning requires a level of technical competence and understanding.

Most states have adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) or plan to in the near future. RUFADAA, in most instances, empowers the executor of your estate with the authority to request access to most digital assets, taking into account your privacy interests and the terms of service agreements with big tech companies. However, when it comes to decentralized money like bitcoin, RUFADAA will be of little use.

In many cases, a living or revocable trust is the best choice. This will allow you to maintain access to your assets in the same way you do while living, but if the unexpected occurs, like death or incapacity, the assets won’t be lost, forgotten or misused.

With a revocable trust, you may act as the trustee of your digital assets. As both the grantor and trustee, you can make as many changes as you want to the trust. The property is not protected from creditors and does not receive any special tax treatment while you are living. However, the revocable living trust can be created to convey bitcoin to your heirs without limiting your own use of the assets while you are living.

How you store bitcoin during your lifetime is your choice. Many use a non-custodial cold storage solution, which provides great privacy but requires technical competency to manage. The bitcoin you wish to pass to your heirs needs to be documented correctly legally and technically. Cryptocurrencies especially are complicated, especially in the context of estate planning. Talk with your estate planning attorney to be sure your digital assets are as protected as your traditional assets.

Reference: Bitcoin Magazine (April 17, 2022) “The Importance of Having an Estate Plan for Your Bitcoin”

Read Our Blog

Estate Planning Articles

Our daily blog discusses issues pertaining to Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Special Needs Planning, and Elder Law / Medicaid.
Read Our Blog

Join Our eNewsletter

Join Our eNewsletter

Each month we send an e-newsletter covering issues of Estate Planning. We also have subscriptions available for our bi-monthly Elder Law e-newsletter and weekly Business Planning e-newsletter.
Subscribe Now!

Request an Initial Consultation

Schedule a Time to Meet Our Team Today

Graber & Johnson Law Group, LLC is devoted to serving clients in the highly specialized areas of estate and business planning. Book a time to meet the Graber & Johnson Law Group Kansas Estate Planning Law Firm.
Request a Consultation

Have Questions?

If you have a a question, a comment, or simply want to have a conversation and explore how we can help, we’d love to hear from you.
Request a Consultation Now

Office Locations

Manhattan Office

714 Poyntz Ave., Suite C
Manhattan, KS 66502

Directions

Hugoton Office

517 S. Main St.
Hugoton, KS 67951

Directions

Elkhart Office

701 Vilymaca St., PO Box 450
Elkhart, KS 67950

Directions

Hutchinson Office

517 E. 30th Ave., Suite B3
Hutchinson, KS 67502

Directions

Garden City Office

1501 E Fulton St.
Suite 3
Garden City, KS 67846

Directions

Norton Kansas Office (Appointment Only)

201 E Holme St.
Norton KS 67654

Manhattan Office

714 Poyntz Ave., Suite C
Manhattan, KS 66502

Get Directions
Hugoton Office

517 S. Main St.
Hugoton, KS 67951

Get Directions
Elkhart Office

701 Vilymaca St., PO Box 450
Elkhart, KS 67950

Get Directions
Hutchinson Office

517 E. 30th Ave., Suite B3
Hutchinson, KS 67502

Get Directions
Garden City Office

1501 E Fulton St.
Suite 3
Garden City, KS 67846

Get Directions
Norton Kansas Office (Appointment Only)

201 E Holme St.
Norton KS 67654

Get Directions
Integrity Marketing Solutions - Estate Planning Marketing
Powered by
selectcrosschevron-down