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How to make a basic inheritance plan for crypto assets

safient Jun 25, 2021


In February 2019, Cryptcurrency trading platform QuadrigaCX lost $180 million worth of coins with its founder, Gerland Cotton's death. The company soon went bankrupt since it couldn't access the locked crypto funds. The crypto community hit another blow with Michael Moddy's demise. He was one of the earliest Bitcoin miners who had a millions worth of coins. His parents still couldn't figure out a way to retrieve his son's crypto assets. These are a few incidents of loss of funds due to the lack of recovery or inheritance plans. With the revolution of crypto assets, the inquest of inheritance is as pressing as ever.

Can cryptocurrency be inherited?

Cryptocurrencies are currencies that function on decentralized network with no single regulatory authority. Since no country has formally granted legitimacy to cryptocurrency, its inheritance regulations in the usual sense remains questionable. Moreover, crypto assets are protected by private keys, and without them, there is no chance an heir can inherit the currency. Crypto wallets can hold an unlimited number of unique addresses, making it impossible to trace the total value of assets locked in a wallet without access by the crypto holders. These reasons combined put out a call for crafting a crypto inheritance plan.  
However, with recent technological advancements, coin holders can now create a safe space for their digital assets and transfer them to their heirs and loved ones in times of need. Via an inheritance plan, you can grant access to your digital assets to your loved ones at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, your inheritance plan should be carefully crafted to minimize the risk of theft.

Making a basic cryptocurrency inheritance plan

As per a survey that we conducted at Safient, only 32% of crypto holders have curated an inheritance plan. With the ongoing covid outbreak succeeded by numerous untimely deaths, users are motivated to chalk out a plan of action.

Quoting Pamela Morgan, author of Cryptoasset Inheritance Planning, the best way to make a plan is by writing a letter to your loved ones, detailing your assets and methods to recover them. The letter may contain the whereabouts of your wallet or locker and may be treated with confidentially.

Here are the steps to create a basic cryptocurrency inheritance plan.

Step 1: Name heirs to your crypto assets

Make multiple heirs to your crypto coins. You can mention the names in your letter or a legitimate will. Include their contact details, phone number, or email.

Step 2: Find a secure storage

A secure storage can be a locked drawer, safe deposit box, or a home cupboard. Your storage must have the facility of multiple backups. You can use wallets to secure your cryptocurrency. Wallets come in different sizes including Hardware Wallets, Software Wallets, Paper Wallets, Phone, and Desktop Wallets. However, the latter three are considered the safest. Create a backup of your wallet and make sure to split it to reduce any chance of security breach or asset theft.

Step 3: Post your backups in an inventory

An inventory is a physical place where you can secure your backups and wallets. You can write your inventory on a computer or a piece of paper. Users may also think about including the extended public key or public addresses in the inventory.

Step 4: Concluding the process

Now that you have a list of heirs, an inventory, and multiple backups, jot down the necessary information to your loved ones as stated above. You can check out a letter template by Pamela Morgan here.

You can also think about splitting up your seed phrases and access information. Here's how you can do so:

  • Passphrase: It is an additional phrase to your traditional 12 to 24-word mnemonic seed. You can split your access information into two places now- mnemonic seed and passphrase.
  • Split mnemonic seed: If your mnemonic seed is lengthy enough, you can create three different fractions of the seed phrase. The way is an efficient one and minimizes security breaches for decades.
  • Shamir’s Secret Sharing is another reliable way to split your secret. However, you must ensure an appropriate environment for recovery, once your information passes down to your heirs.

Yes, this is a decent start to create a recovery and inheritance plan for your crypto assets. But these manual methods may not be an intuitive solution for many. So, we at Safient are devising a solution that digitizes the entire process and ensures safety and convenience.

We at Safient understand the needs of our consumers and envision creating a digitized and secure cryptocurrency inheritance plan using decentralized storage, smart contracts, and cryptography techniques. Safient’s safe also stores critical information in encrypted form to access and recover the assets and thus bridging the gap between the holders and the heirs in a safe way.
We have made great progress so far to prove the prototype and we are close to delivering the first usable version to the public. Until then, you can follow our progress through Twitter and Discord. Check out https://safient.io for more details.

A few more resources to learn more about Safient:

Documentation: https://docs.safient.io
Resources and roadmap: https://resources.safient.io
GitHub: https://github.com/safient
Twitter: https://twitter.com/safientio

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