Making Wills in a digital age

04 February 2020

The digital revolution continues apace – but if you’re riding the technology wave when it comes to your money, have you thought about all the consequences?

That is the question being asked by legal experts in our region, with a concern for those people who own cryptocurrency but do not have up-to-date Wills.

Solicitor Julie Densley, Risk & Compliance Manager at Wilkin Chapman solicitors, highlighted recent research that revealed how an estimated 3.8 million Bitcoin, worth £22.8bn, had gone forever because its owners had died and not told anyone how to get to it.

Bitcoin is one of the most popular brands of cryptocurrency, which is a completely digital type of money. Put simply, they are made up of computer files stored in digital wallets and due to this method of storage, the owner will likely have private access and passwords. Problems have emerged when cryptocurrency owners die, and their digital money becomes inaccessible.

This was evidenced just over a year ago when Gerald Cotten, the CEO of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange died suddenly. He was the only person who had passwords to clients’ digital wallets and as a result the funds were deemed inaccessible!

Commenting on Julie’s concerns, Wilkin Chapman Partner and Head of Wills, Estates, Tax and Trusts Lisa-Jane Howes said: “National reports suggest that there are people out there who have built up substantial amounts of ‘digital money’ and they really must think about protecting this asset like any other.

“Of course, as with making any Will, no-one wishes to think about their passing, but we cannot stress how necessary it is to do so with regards to succession planning and future-proofing assets should the unforeseen happen. No-one knows what is around the corner,” said Lisa-Jane.

“In this digital age it really is important for people, who are likely to be younger, with cryptocurrency to ensure that they have a Will that of course remains confidential, which protects their assets for those who they decide will inherit. Passwords and a list of assets can be stored with that Will for future reference by executors,” she added.

For more advice on Wills, either making one for the first time or updating existing Wills, Lisa-Jane can be contacted on 01522 515971.


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