20th-century estate planning concern for some: virtual currency

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Imagine how you would feel after a loving parent has passed away and you suddenly realized that, notwithstanding mom’s or dad’s incessant infatuation and endorsement of so-called “virtual currencies” during life, there is no evidence to be found of any such property in estate documents or elsewhere?

Might that make you just a bit concerned?

Here’s a quick story regarding Bitcoin, which is the best known of all virtual (also called “crypto”) currencies. Reportedly, one Bitcoin developer and early enthusiastic parted with 10,000 units of that currency for a mere two pizzas several years ago, just to show doubters that bitcoins actually commanded some commercial value.

The reported value of the currency today is … $45 million.

So, if it seems apparent that mom or dad has some entrepreneurial drive and has researched crypto currencies to the point of making purchases, it would certainly be a positive thing for that property (bitcoins are deemed property rather than currency by the IRS) to be recognized and accounted for in the estate planning realm.

Candidly, and absent timely and proactive efforts to promote that goal through discussions with a proven estate planning attorney and the implementation of a suitable administration strategy, that is sometimes easier said than done.

And here’s why, notes a recent National Law Review article on estate planning and virtual currency: Bitcoins and other crypto currencies “can be held offline, and even anonymously, making it difficult or impossible for fiduciaries to discover.”

That could be catastrophic in some cases, obviously, especially where holdings are significant and existing in an environment marked by the progressive acceptance of virtual currencies.

Individuals or families with planning-related questions or concerns regarding this relatively new asset entry can address them with an experienced estate administration attorney.

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