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Understanding how to account for cryptocurrency in an estate plan

As technology increases and different methods of accruing assets become more prominent, New Yorkers who have these assets in their portfolio should be aware of how to account for them in an estate plan. This is true even if these assets fluctuate in value, popularity and prominence. Shielding them might be viewed as complicated estate planning. Having legal assistance with these types of products can help to preserve assets regardless of their immediate value. Cryptocurrency falls into this category.

Bitcoin is one item of cryptocurrency. With the reduction in value of bitcoin recently, it is not a justification to ignore shielding them in an estate plan. Since bitcoin and any other form of cryptocurrency is so new and is digital in nature, there should be steps to track the account details or face the danger of losing it and its value. Having an on-paper record of cryptocurrency is crucial. The details of purchasing and having cryptocurrency in a portfolio is constantly changing because it is so new. For example, regulators in the U.S. have yet to require the providing of identification to purchase it. Having a record of it for those who have purchased cryptocurrency in this way can protect it for heirs.

Some exchanges of these products do not request that their account holders name a beneficiary - something that is customary with other asset management tools. Because of that, when the cryptocurrency is not mentioned in an estate plan, probate court will be tasked with determining its fate. Probate can be costly and time-consuming. Detailing cryptocurrency holdings in a will, a revocable living trust, a power of attorney or any other document is essential.

Since cryptocurrency is intangible and digital-only, understanding how to account for it when considering strategies for an estate plan is one of the most important factors in maintaining it and transferring its value to loved ones. A legal professional who is cognizant of all different levels of estate planning can provide guidance and advice on cryptocurrency and any other issue that arises.

Source: barrons.com, "Bitcoin Should Be Part of Estate Planning, Too," Abby Schultz, Feb. 1, 2018

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