Planning for cryptocurrency has been neglected. It means that, in some cases, the currency has been lost. There have been people who tossed their computer hard drives with thousands of bitcoins (now worth millions). They then spend days sifting through tons of garbage. To save your family from this trouble and embarrassment after you die, add your cryptocurrency into your estate plan to preserve the benefits and avoid the risks.
Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Estate Planning When You Own Cryptocurrency” says, first, you must preserve the benefits of your cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency is highly secure. However, that security is in danger, if the private key is carelessly recorded or discarded. With the private key, anyone can access it. As a result, your planning and procedures must address how to secure this information. Just like cash, it isn’t traceable. In fact, there’s no electronic or paper trail connecting the parties in a transaction involving it. Therefore, in order to preserve that privacy, you’ll need to plan so the other documentation in the transaction doesn’t reveal these identities, or at least keep that information privileged. Remember that transferring cryptocurrency takes only seconds.
Because cryptocurrency, like precious metals and other commodities, can fluctuate wildly in value even during the course of a day, it must be treated like stock in a private company and other assets that are volatile in nature. It also isn’t subject to government regulation, so no government is responsible for losses from fraud, theft or other malfeasance.
Trusts and other planning devices have a tough time with cryptocurrency, especially if the Prudent Investor Rule applies. Without specific language, the trust won’t be capable of holding cryptocurrency. If that language is written too broadly, the trustee may be exempt from damages due to willful neglect.
Cryptocurrency is also taxed as property not as currency by the IRS, which means that the fair market value is set by conversion into U.S. dollars at “a reasonable exchange rate” and transactions involving cryptocurrency are subject to the capital gains tax regulations. As a result, you must have specific tax provisions in trusts, partnerships, LLCs, and other entities. Therefore, if you, or your business, own bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, your estate, business succession, and financial plans need to address it specifically. Ask an experienced estate planning attorney for help.
Reference: Wealth Advisor (August 4, 2020) “Estate Planning When You Own Cryptocurrency”