This is an opinion editorial by Konstantin Rabin, a finance and technology writer.
Death is not something that many people like talking about all too much, but it is crucial to sit and have a good think about what will happen to all of your earthly belongings when the inevitable eventually happens.
Despite its importance, a 2021 study found that less than half of all adults in the U.S. have a will set up at all. While many are too scared of thinking about it, a large number of people simply feel that they lack the know-how for setting one up or want to wait until they have children before they feel the need to sort out their afterlives.
Over the last year or so, I decided to have this “will” discussion with myself, and after much thinking and many hours of research, the answer for the best method of inheritance to establish in my own will seemed obvious: Bitcoin.
As things stand in the world today, you are bound to end up with issues if you don’t set up a will. Let’s say that you kick the bucket tomorrow without an inheritance plan drawn up. The first thing that might happen is that all of your assets could be frozen until the courts take their sweet time digging through every detail of your estate. This alone can take from several months to several years, depending on where you live and the assets that are in your name. If you were married and died intestate (without a will), your spouse might end up having to find an executor, which often costs a lot of money, and then comes the months of paperwork and infighting with long-lost relatives who might suddenly start showing up at your doorstep. Along with all of this drama could come the taxman, ready to act as the grim reaper of the assets you leave behind, often taking huge percentages of your life savings.
With all this in mind, setting up your will with BTC can solve many problems for those who you leave behind in the land of the living. I will be going through some of my thoughts on this and explaining exactly why I have decided to set up my will with Bitcoin.
Advantages Of Bitcoin Over Traditional Assets
To me, it all came down to two aspects, with the first being accessibility. With physical assets, you end up having to do more than just paperwork when passing on your property after death. Whether it is gold bars, a cellar of investment-grade whisky or expensive paintings, there is a certain level of expertise needed to move these items from one place to the next and then to look after them properly.
Bitcoin solves this for me. Here you have an asset that doesn’t need anything other than a 256-bit long combination to be accessed globally, without your next of kin having to wait months to gain access to frozen accounts. This combination can hold all of the value that I wish to pass on, without the need for any fancy, temperature-controlled room or two-ton safe. This way, value can easily be transferred to and accessed by beneficiaries across the globe without the need for intermediaries.
The other aspect of BTC that makes it good to use as an inheritance device is its privacy aspect. We all know that Bitcoin’s blockchain technology is as safe as can be, thus eliminating any security risks, but what about privacy? Sure, it might be possible to track who owns BTC if you know who a wallet belongs to, but as with most of us HODLrs, we tend to keep things on the downlow.
So, BTC offers security, accessibility and privacy, but it also occurred to me that there might be some issues with this scheme, so I got to listing them and thinking each one through.
The Challenges And Risks Of Transferring Bitcoin
Security seemed a no-brainer with respect to keeping my stash of coins safe for those I want to leave it to, but then again, how does one transfer said coins or pass a wallet on in a safe way? Setting up a smart contract that will execute upon your demise seemed to be the perfect solution, but then Elon Musk started those human trials with his brain implants, so this idea might still be a few years off.
So, you might be thinking, go old school and get a safety deposit box at a normal bank to leave your private key in a well-protected spot, and include instructions in your will that will make the situation clear to those you left behind. But even then, there is a certain amount of technical competence that will be required for your beneficiaries to be able to navigate the intricacies of Bitcoin ownership.
Using BTC has become significantly more straightforward than it was back in 2010, but it still requires a level of technical understanding which can pose a challenge for heirs who may not be familiar with cryptocurrencies. The solution here is obvious: Educate your people about the glories of Bitcoin before you end up six feet under.
Value And Distribution
Bitcoin’s price fluctuations might be something that could scare people off from even considering this asset as a store of value that can be passed on, but there is no doubt in my mind that one day, even a single satoshi will be worth a pretty penny.
The problem comes from the fact that, while I am still alive, I want to continue using crypto exchanges to trade and add to my supply of bitcoin. So, how can an ever-evolving bitcoin stack be evenly divided after my death? Well, this is really quite simple, just allocate a percentage of your coins to each beneficiary. This way, you can keep adding to your nest egg, and it doesn’t matter how many coins you have or how volatile the market might be, the right percentage will make it into the right hands.
Tools For Bitcoin Inheritance Planning
OK, so, in my dive down the BTC-will rabbit hole, I did manage to find a few tips and tools that should be helpful when planning what happens to your stuff once you enter the eternal rest. Let me just briefly touch on two of them:
This one is perfect for those who are scared that one of their relatives will try to swindle the rest or something like that. One way you might use multi-signature wallets can be in your lawyer and beneficiaries each having to authorize a transaction in order for it to be carried out. This added layer of security can be an easy way of setting up your will without going through too much technical trouble. For me, this multi-signature wallet approach is a fantastic idea and one I have already implemented.
Bitcoin Estate Planning Services
Believe it or not, I wasn’t the first person to think of this. Specialized bitcoin estate planning services are out there and they offer solutions to securely manage and transfer bitcoin holdings after you breathe your last. These services can help a ton by providing expert guidance and reducing the risk of loss or mishandling of the bitcoin by those who are not too clued in with blockchain technology. While I personally see the value in these services, it’s just not my cup of tea.
No matter the path you choose to implement a BTC will, one thing that should always accompany your last will and testament is a dossier of comprehensive documentation giving clear instructions on all of your wishes. Clear documentation is essential, and the more concise the instructions, the less room will be available for interpretation and arguments from beneficiaries.
Impact Of Bitcoin As A Legacy
To me, it all comes down to building a legacy and playing a part in the future of Bitcoin, even from beyond the grave. Democratizing wealth is the perfect way to help push the ideas of a better world through blockchain technology and BTC forward, and by incorporating it into my will, I feel like it helps this cause along.
I always aim to promote financial inclusivity and would like to empower my heirs with exposure to a transformative asset that has already and will continue to shape the world into something glorious. Supporting Bitcoin in this way also aligns with my belief in the potential of decentralized technologies to reshape the future of finance and society as a whole.
By choosing Bitcoin as a legacy, I hope to, at the very least, spark conversations about digital assets, educate my heirs, inspire them to explore the opportunities presented by emerging technologies and empower them to approach the evolving financial landscape with confidence.
This is a guest post by Konstanin Rabin. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.