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Blockchain Estate Planning Solutions

Blockchain Estate Planning Solutions

Even since bitcoin exploded in popularity in 2017, it seems like news websites, businessmen, politicians, and even regular people haven’t stopped talking about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. While today blockchain technology is mainly used to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions, it has the potential to revolutionize many fields, including medical recordkeeping, equity trading, and even digital IDs.

The world of estate planning has not been immune to the advances in technology over the past decades. For centuries, handwritten or holographic wills were the gold standard for estate planning documents. However, with the spread of typewriters and computers, typewritten wills have long since become the new norm. Today, several states don’t even consider handwritten wills legally valid. In the past decade, online will-making services have made their impact on the estate planning market. Online will makers are mostly used to create wills that are then printed out and signed, just like typewritten documents made from scratch. But several states, including Florida, Indiana, Nevada, and Arizona, have now passed legislation to accept e-signed digital wills. And blockchain wills and trusts are likely to become widespread in our not-so-distant future. Even though the field of estate planning has been relatively slow at adopting new technology, the shift is already happening.

Blockchain Technology Explained

So, what is blockchain technology exactly? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t feel like you quite know the answer to this question. You might have heard that it’s a method of storing and exchanging information in a decentralized form on peer-to-peer networks, but how does that work?

We’re here to help you understand it with a simple analogy. Consider the process of creating and editing a text document in collaboration with a team of people. If you were to use Microsoft Word to create and edit the document, the person who created the text would need to save it to their computer and email the copy to the second person. This individual would make changes and forward the document to a third individual, and so forth. This method is very slow and time-consuming. There are lots of outdated versions floating around and it’s difficult to coordinate and have everybody be on the same page.

Alternatively, the entire team could edit the document simultaneously using Google Docs. Each team member would instantly see the changes made by everyone else and be able to view the latest version of the document at all times. This would streamline collaboration and dramatically reduce the amount of time necessary to get to the final result. Using blockchain technology is just like using Google Docs, as it ensures that all users are verified and all the information is in sync at all times. While in the past many important records would be updated by one party at a time and then sent to the next party involved, blockchain enables all interested parties to access and edit the same version of the same file at the same time.

Blockchain in Estate Planning

Nowadays, blockchain technology is widely used in the financial sector to carry out fast and secure transactions. But it could also have functional implications in the estate planning sector.

Blockchain Wills and Trusts

Crypto-Wills are a relatively new invention. Since most countries have not yet passed appropriate legislation to make these documents legally valid, they are not widely used at the moment. However, blockchain estate planning documents have several advantages over conventional wills and trusts.

To create a crypto-will, the testator needs to use specialized code-run software. The initial process of creating a crypto-will is very similar to a regular will: the testator needs to list all of his assets, beneficiaries, and last wishes in the document. All of the relevant individuals included in the will (dependents, beneficiaries, etc.) are networked together with a blockchain connection. Once the will is created, everyone in that blockchain is notified. However, the names of the testator and beneficiaries will be replaced with crypto-addresses, which keeps the will private. Thus, if someone tries to tamper with the document and change the information in it, everyone in the blockchain will know that it has happened. After the testator’s death, the document will be executed automatically via smart contract technology and all the assets will be transferred to the intended recipients.

Advantages of Crypto-Wills

  • No need for an executor – since a crypto-will is executed automatically, there’s no need for an executor, which can save the estate money in executor fees.
  • Crypto-wills can’t be lost – because the documents are stored on a distributed peer-to-peer network (like a shared drive), it’s impossible to lose them.
  • Tamper-proof – blockchains are hacker-proof, so there’s no chance for your will to be amended or destroyed without your knowledge.
  • Privacy – blockchain wills use private keys instead of names to identify individuals, ensuring privacy.
  • No disputes over wording – a poorly worded will can result in lengthy legal disputes. However, crypto-wills are a lot less open to interpretation.

Disadvantages of Blockchain Will Technology

  • Not accepted by most governments – many legal issues need to be resolved before blockchain technology can be used for estate planning purposes.
  • Taxation issues – in jurisdictions where inheritance is subject to taxation, crypto-wills can pose additional problems.
  • Non-digital assets listed in crypto-wills – while digital assets can be transferred to the beneficiaries automatically, there’s no streamlined process for distributing non-digital assets such as real estate or material possessions.

Leaving Cryptocurrency in Your Will

Did you know that it is estimated that around 4 million bitcoins have been lost because people who owned them died without sharing their private keys that could be used to access the cryptocurrency? Today, more and more people are purchasing cryptocurrency for investment and other purposes. But what will happen to your digital assets if you die unexpectedly? Certainly, you don’t want your hard-earned money to be lost forever. But you also might not feel comfortable revealing the keys to your digital assets to the will executor while you’re still alive.

This is where a blockchain last will and testament could help. You can potentially include the keys to your cryptocurrency in your will. After your death, the document will be executed automatically and your digital assets will be transferred to the beneficiaries.

Since creating a blockchain will is not an option for most people nowadays, you can leave your cryptocurrency to your beneficiaries by listing all the digital assets you have in your will. You can create a will online in under 30 minutes by using an affordable online will-making service.

However, since the contents of a will usually become a part of public record, you should refrain from listing passwords and other information that can be used to access the cryptocurrency in your will. Instead, create a memorandum that contains a list of your digital wallets, logins and passwords that are necessary to access the money, a list of devices where your cryptocurrency is stored, and links for password managers and online exchangers.

Concluding Words About Digital Will Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize and streamline estate planning. Digital wills created using blockchain technology will be impossible to lose, forge, or destroy without proper authorization. Plus, they will eliminate the need for will executors and make the process of leaving cryptocurrency and other digital assets in your will incredibly easy, as after your death, your assets will be transferred to your intended beneficiaries automatically. While mainstream blockchain wills and trusts are still at least a few years away, they have a lot of potential to become a standard part of the estate planning process.