Tune into any major news outlet and you’ll hear about the rise – and tumultuous market behavior – of cryptocurrency. As with any other investment that fluctuates with market activities, there are risks associated with buying and selling. No matter how savvy you may be, if you’re investing in crypto, you need an asset protection plan. The following stories show just that.
Christopher Matthews was a businessman and investor who came from good money on both his mother and father’s sides of the family. He passed away in March 2018, and at that time, his estate was valued at $180 million. A large chunk of that came from a hearty $1.8 million investment in cryptocurrency. He bought his shares through a company we’ll call Wayve.
Matthews death was sudden, and as a result, his estate plan was outdated and didn’t reflect his cryptocurrency trading. After some phone calls with Wayve, it was found that the logins to his crypto accounts were kept on several devices throughout the country, and under other names as well.
Luckily, Wayve worked with Matthews’ lawyers to grant access to these accounts, though this isn’t always the case for account holders with less financial esteem. Even though Matthews’ estate attorneys caught a break with the accessing the accounts, they weren’t as fortunate in distributing the Wayze funds in a timely manner. It was critical that the accounts be liquidated to pay off outstanding debts and other tax obligations.
However, Matthews had a withstanding agreement with Wayze that put a cap on how many cryptocurrency shares could be sold at once. This agreement set back the distribution of affairs because the shares had to be sold over the course of several months. While this allocation process was going on, the remaining money in Matthews’ crypto account values began to plummet (thanks to a large dip in the market). By the end of the allocation process, the accounts lost about two thirds of their value, dropping the total value of the estate to less than half of what it was at the time of Matthews’ death.
Matthews’ surviving benefactors would have been in much better financial shape if he had disclosed his crypto trading activities with the individuals involved in his estate. Essentially, they would have been able to sell off shares sooner and reap the benefits of his investments. Instead, the market dip wiped out a large portion of the investments. Furthermore, an actionable plan should have been in place to avoid relying on the cryptocurrency investments to pay off the outstanding debts in the first place.
Steven Thompson was in tune with the latest trends and became an early Bitcoin investor. He even shared this knowledge with online followers in a 2011 video, which earned him 7,000 Bitcoin. Steve set up a digital hard drive with the company SteelLock to store his Bitcoin – in other words, a digital wallet.
It’s been over a decade since Steven set up his SteelLock, and he’s been busy mining Bitcoin ever since. Unfortunately, he’s forgotten the password that he initially used to configure it, and SteelLock only allows 5 wrong attempts before locking the account. To date, his portfolio amounts to well over $100 million. Unless he can remember the login credentials, he’ll never get to see or sell the money accrued.
The key takeaway is that accounts requiring a password need to be secure, but should also have a backup to enable access in the event of a forgotten password or estate distribution. It’s good practice to establish a plan at the onset of investment activities, because before you know it, a decade of investments will accrue and you may just forget your password when it’s needed most.
Jeff Connely was a Bitcoin miner who died doing what he loved – flying his Cessna in the Alaskan Bush. He was only 26 years old when he passed, and at that time, he owned a sizeable share of Bitcoin. The problem? No one, not even his parents or close friends, knew where he stored it, how much he owned, or how to access it.
The amount he owned would have been a nice influx of money that his loved ones could have managed after his passing. But since he didn’t share the details with his family, the shares he owned, and total amount of funds, went with him in the plane crash. Relatives may be able to estimate your net worth and property assets after your death by sifting through email, bank statements, or physical paperwork at your residence, but this is especially difficult to do with Bitcoin.
It’s not always obvious to loved ones that Bitcoin assets are a serious investment and may be worth an astonishing amount. That’s why a plan needs to be put in place. Let a trustworthy person in your network in on the details of your cryptocurrency activities, and how to access them should the unthinkable happen. Not only that, it’s smart to include details on how you want assets to be used when you’re gone. If you don’t do this, you’re putting your hard-earned investments up to the whims of how much documentation you left behind, and how easily loved ones can access it.
Cryptocurrency is a powerful investment tool that can be leveraged to one’s advantage and build generational wealth. It’s also very new to many of us, so working out a management strategy can be uncharted territory. To be prepared for the unexpected, lean on the knowledge of our estate planning professionals. We can craft a sound cryptocurrency plan to protect you and your loved ones. Whether you’re a seasoned crypto investor, or are considering just diving in, we encourage you to reach out to our advisors to plan for the future.