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Handling digital assets in an estate plan

Cryptocurrency and other digital assets have increased the complexity of estate planning. People in Ohio who are creating an estate plan should ensure that they take care of both the legal and technical aspects of making digital assets accessible to heirs.

One attorney suggests listing the assets and all the relevant information regarding them on a piece of paper that is kept with other estate planning documents. She advises this over putting them on a USB drive since technology is fallible. Information such as key locations, timelock or multisignature requirements, passphrases and PINs may need to be included. Depending on how much trading a person does, this list will need to be updated regularly. A frequent trader may need to update it weekly while someone who trades only occasionally might only do so annually.

This will allow heirs to access the accounts, but there also needs to be legal guidance in place; without it, heirs could end up fighting over the assets. Most states, including Ohio, allow executors to manage digital assets just as they do other assets. One consideration for executors may be the volatile nature of cryptocurrency. This could mean selling the assets quickly so that it does not appear they mismanaged them by holding onto them too long and allowing their value to drop.

People may also want to think about other types of digital property. This includes things such as photos and social media accounts. Different platforms have different terms of service regarding who can access another person's account and under what circumstances, so people may want to look into these and make any necessary preparations. They should also discuss their estate planning with their loved ones. Talking about what will happen with both digital and regular assets may reduce the likelihood that the plan will be misunderstood or challenged.

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Kroener, Hale & Penick Law Firm
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