• Sakshar Law Associates

Can cryptocurrencies be included in will?

Updated: Sep 1

By

Sakshi Shairwal

Pratishta Priyadarshi


In the digital or virtual money world, a Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is safeguarded by cryptography, making counterfeiting and double-spending almost difficult. Many Cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology, which is a distributed ledger enforced by a worldwide network of computers that are used to create them. In contrast to traditional currencies, Cryptocurrency is defined by the fact that it is not issued by a central authority, making it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.


The government or monetary authorities grant fiat currencies their power as means of exchange. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are not backed by any government or corporate entity. As a result, establishing their legal standing in many financial countries throughout the world has proven problematic. The fact that Cryptocurrencies have mostly operated outside of the current financial infrastructure doesn't help things. Cryptocurrencies' legal status has ramifications for their use in regular transactions and trade. El Salvador was the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as legal money for monetary transactions as of December 2021. Cryptocurrency regulation in the rest of the world differs by jurisdiction.


Unlike traditional money, Cryptocurrency does not have a physical form. It's a digital asset that can only be utilized online. Cryptocurrency can only be accessible if you have the private key, which is usually kept in a digital wallet for security reasons.


Traditional investment accounts are not the same as cryptocurrency accounts. They're more prone to security risks, and you can't specify a beneficiary in most cases.


Cryptocurrency, like other assets like money, property, and personal possessions, can be incorporated into an estate plan. Gifting bitcoin or an altcoin, on the other hand, necessitates additional measures due to its secure nature.


A crypto-asset cannot be accessed without its private key. That implies your cryptocurrency will be lost in the digital ether if you die without providing a mechanism for someone to find and access the private key. The asset will stay in your control, and your personal information will remain encrypted, but it will be lost and unreachable. This is why including Cryptocurrencies in your estate plan is crucial.


Laws of Succession are concerned with the legal rules that govern the disposition of an individual's assets after his or her death. The sequence in which one person in preference to another, one person after another, or any one person in specific share with any other person succeeds to the property/estate of the deceased person are examples of these. Corporate entities with a continuous existence are exempt from this provision and are subject to separate legislation governing winding up, reorganization, and closure.


It is possible to split the rules of succession into two main categories: first, when the dead has left behind a legitimate and executable 'Will;' and second, where the deceased has died without leaving behind a valid and executable 'Will.'


A will is a written document that expresses the wishes of a dead individual about the disposal of his or her estate after death. Upon a determination that the Will is genuine and enforceable, the deceased's estate would be dispersed in line with the terms of the Will.


Any individual who is legally competent of entering into an Agreement can make a will. Minors or anybody under the influence of intoxicants or any other type of influence such as coercion, fraud, or a bout of illness that takes away his or her free will or ability to grasp the consequences of his or her actions are unable to form a Will while in this state.


According to Section 2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, a "Will" is a legal declaration of a testator's purpose with respect to his or her property, which he or she wishes to be brought into effect after his or her death.


For Wills, the Indian Succession Act of 1925 does not specify a particular format or technical necessity. The essentials include:


Written clearly, the writer's (also known as the Testator's) aim should be apparent. To accomplish the Testator's goal, even minor typos and inaccuracies in the document's name or property data might be overlooked in favour of reading the entire thing to get the full picture. The testator and two witnesses must sign it. If you can't sign because you are illiterate or have a medical condition, you can use your thumb imprint. The signature should be placed at the bottom or end of the document to demonstrate that it is being used to implement the preceding or preceding text. Witnesses should be non-beneficiaries of the Will and should not be related to the testator. Their or their wife's favour would be invalid if any dispositions had been made. However, the validity of his signature as a witness is unaffected. The Act does not define any specific terms or formats. In addition, wills do not have to be written on legal paper.


Stocks are being included in wills. Inherited stock is stock that is passed down from one generation to the next when the original owner of the stock passes away. The growth in value of the stock from the time it was acquired until the decedent's death is tax-free. As a result, the stock's beneficiaries will only be responsible for income from capital gains generated during their own lives.


On the other side, the decentralized nature of Cryptocurrencies means that they leave little or no paper trace, making it nearly hard to track them down without the proper tools. If you don't include Bitcoin in your will and your beneficiaries don't know about it, they may never find out about it. To save yourself from falling into this trap, provide a detailed description of your Cryptocurrency (as well as its location of it) in your will.


A physical crypto wallet, such as a thumb drive, is an alternative to digital wallets that are maintained via an app or website. What you do with your crypto will determine the type you use. As a result, it is absolutely critical that a comprehensive estate plan be drafted. Set up your estate plan so that your crypto assets, as well as any passwords or PINs or keys you have, are passed on to a designated beneficiary. A Cryptocurrency exchange's customer support might be contacted by your heirs to alert them of your death.


An analyst from Coinbase is available to help the next of kin, according to a Coinbase spokesman. To initiate a transfer from a deceased person's account, Gemini needs a death certificate and power of attorney.


Keeping your estate plan up-to-date, especially after a major life transition like marriage or divorce, is the best way to ensure that your assets go to the correct people. Make sure your beneficiaries have access to the most recent versions of your instructions. Periodic firmware upgrades are all that cold wallets require, too. That way, your loved ones won't have to deal with the emotional stress of settling your estate when you die.


CONCLUSION


It can be concluded that Cryptocurrencies can be included in a will. However, there are a few caveats in this regard. Cryptocurrency demands more consideration than traditional assets when it comes to leaving it to your loved ones after your death. There are some preparations to be made to make the process easier for the beneficiaries and to guarantee that they receive the coins when the time comes. People have the option of supplying all of the essential information on their own or enlisting the help of an estate planning attorney for assistance. Making sure the loved ones are aware of your bitcoin holdings and that they have the appropriate information to access them after a person passes away is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the worst-case scenario.



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