What happens to your crypto when you die?


Imagine your family member or friend gets rich from crypto and passes away. Yes, you’d be grieving, but you may also wonder what happens to their assets. And if they’ve left you any, the question then becomes: How are you supposed to access them?

These are questions that anyone with cryptocurrency holdings should consider, even at a young age, according to Jaime Herren, an attorney at Holland & Knight.

As the crypto industry matures, one consideration often left ignored is estate planning for your assets when you pass. Given that a lot of crypto assets are held in both hot and cold wallets and guarded by private keys (among other security elements), these funds could be virtually lost forever without a plan in place.

“The call to action is to do it,” Herren said. “Don’t think you’re too young to put a plan in place for your assets.” (Of course, this advice also applies to people with traditional assets.)

Herren, who manages complex assets, technology, digital assets and intellectual property for individuals, says in general, most clients looking for estate plans are older. “The only people under 40 who do it are ones who have a baby. Sometimes the first kid triggers people to want to take care of them or leave things to them. But no one [else] thinks about it until mortality starts ticking past 55 or 60 years old,” she said.

But the narrative might be changing. Over the past three years, there has been a 63% rise in adults between the ages of 18 and 34 laying out plans for their estate, according to Caring.com’s 2023 Wills and Estate Planning study.

It’s important to note, however, that this applies to general estate planning and not planning around crypto assets.

Wealthy individuals who have over $10 million in crypto assets should update their estate plans every six months, Herren said. “Blockchain asset owners move assets a lot, so they need to update their estate plans to reflect that.”

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