We’ve all heard the stories of the vast riches and jaw-dropping losses to be had in cryptocurrency.
The bitcoin bubble of 2018 saw fortunes built and decimated in the blink of an eye.
And who could forget the British man left begging his local council to go digging through the local rubbish tip after he accidentally discarded a hard drive containing $127 million worth of Bitcoin?
But a recent case shows just how vulnerable we all are to the loss of digital assets in the event of an untimely death.
More than $275 million (that’s a quarter of a billion dollars) in crypto is now locked away in the internet – possibly forever – after a fund manager died and took the only passwords to a managed fund’s encrypted account to his grave.
Aside from a glowing endorsement of his firm’s cyber security measures, the case highlights the need for a proper estate plan that deals with access to digital assets after death.
Sure, we might not all be sitting on a fortune in crypto but think about the assets you do own in the digital world.
You might run an eBay or Esty store. Plenty of people run an online business from home, keeping stock in their garage or fulfilling orders through a third party like Amazon. What happens when you die and that business needs to continue to fulfill orders?
What about PayPal accounts? iTunes. Google Play. X-Box Live, YouTube, PlayStation Plus; all online entities with real financial links to your life.
Many people have lottery accounts that reinvest small winnings into future draws. Wouldn’t it be horrible to have a win your family cant access?
What about your online photo galleries, or cloud storage where you’ve saved copies of important documents?
At a bare minimum you should consider having plans in place for your social media accounts and smart phone, such as a recovery email address that can only be accessed by a trusted person.
More and more, our clients are designing their Wills and estate plans to include instructions on what happens to their digital assets after death. It’s a smart move, and something that’s only going to grow in importance.
Don’t leave your family staring at a log-in screen, wondering what to type when “password 1234” fails.
It’s worth remembering the old joke; “when I die, delete my browser history”. There’s wisdom in that. Just make sure someone has the ability to do so.