Bitcoin Inheritance



Interesting article on cryptocurrency inheritance. Never really thought about this issue but its definitely a tricky problem to solve without custodial services that hold your private keys which defeats the main selling points of crypto and creates a security risk. Seems like a ton of coins could be lost to the network over time via poor inheritance planning where relatives are unable to access the coins of their deceased loved one. Full article below. Let me know what you guys think about this issue. Is there a decentralized way to solve it?


TLDR version: A will…is a private key. Interesting because a radical new space will still rely on an ages old idea (the Will).

HOLY SHIT - I can never stop myself from thinking about stuff…what about A BLOCKCHAIN WILL? Meh…looks like it’s already been thought of.


This has crossed my mind too. I wonder if this could be solved with a smart contract that executes should you die.


moving to #beginners-help:law-tax … and maybe @Peter_Rehm has thoughts.


That is unfortunate for that man and his son’s untimely death. I was thinking to hide private keys in a family gun safe but I recently saw on the news while drinking coffe at McDonalds that a Patriot football player had his house broken into while he was playing in the super bowl, they broke into his gun safe too, and stole some of his guns. Perhaps a sort of hidden panic room would work better. I’ve read not to digitize private keys but I’ve also read that they can be encrypted into files or images and stored in cold storage. I will discuss this with my family so we can come up with a plan and know where each other’s private keys are stored in case of an emergency. Thanks for sharing.


I’ve had recent and extensive experience in the area of wills and cryptocurrency. There is just too much to easily talk about in this area. Maybe we can take this offline?


I could see a smart will that moves coins from your wallet to a relatives wallet upon death but then how do you confirm death unless you maybe have death certificates on a blockchain (DeathChain lol). In that case once the state certifies death your digital assets would be moved over to the wallet specified in your smart will.

Of course that would require integration with state and local governments which seems like a hurdle that won’t be overcome anytime soon.


#DeathChain We Need It !!


It could be an asset that is not included within the will so there would be no issue with this asset such as:

  • Retirement accounts—IRAs or 401(k)s, for example—for which a beneficiary was named
  • Life insurance proceeds (unless the estate is named as beneficiary, which is rare)
  • Property held in a living trust
  • Funds in a payable-on-death (POD) bank account
  • Securities registered in transfer-on-death (TOD) form
  • U.S. savings bonds registered in payable-on-death form
  • Co-owned U.S. savings bonds
  • Real estate subject to a valid transfer-on-death deed (allowed only in some states)
  • Pension plan distributions
  • Wages, salary, or commissions (up to a certain amount) due the deceased person
  • Property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship
  • Property owned as tenants by the entirety with a spouse (not all states have this form of ownership)
  • Property held in community property with right of survivorship (allowed only in some community property states)
  • Cars or boats registered in transfer-on-death form (allowed only in some states)
  • Vehicles that go to immediate family members under state law
  • Household goods and other items that go to immediate family members under state law


True but how to you certify death to execute the contract? How does the chain know your dead?


I think from a legal standpoint its pretty straight forward. But the network issues are the bigger issue. Certainly many folks in crypto aren’t making estate planning decisions as the group trends to the younger side. Also, how do relatives actually take possession of the coins if the deceased did not let them know what their private key is. Sharing the key is a security risk but currently that is probably the only way.


I’m working on this. Have heard that there is a little known bitcoin protocol (that may or may not have been implemented) that would work nicely with this need. Have to reach out to my Peeps (not the creamy yellow ones) to see what the status is.


Let me know what you find out please. That would be surprising if BTC protocol has a backdoor.


I would be also. But there may be a private key splitting protocol which enables the private key to be reassembled if all of the decedents present their portion of the key at a certain time. I have to confirm its possible or has been thought of in the Bitcoin Improvement Proposals.


Very interesting. Cool thanks!


If / when I have enough I will just put a copy of keys in a bank vault… When I die, my daughter will inherit the contents of that vault…


Bitcoin Improvement Proposal #39 addresses this:

This is a new way around having your seed word lists subject to attack.



I trust banks (a lot!!) but how many bank vaults have been converted to McDonalds?

Be careful about your choice of banks before you deposit your keys. Let your kids know that you have a safety deposit box at certain bank(s)/ branch(s) and that it holds important information for them.


I hope the bank will tell me if it’s turning into a mcd :rofl:

And ocf I will tell her. But even if I didn’t, I’m pretty sure the way inheritance works here in Denmark, the bank would be obliged to transfer it to her name, if I die…

Doesn’t matter right now, I’m not crypto rich… But I have thought about it and will figure it out when necessary :slight_smile:


Here in the US the government can close your bank down if it does not meet regulatory capital requirements (and other factors). Usually the weak banks are acquired by a stronger bank but there are instances where literally no one wants to come in and operate the weak bank.

If the safety deposit boxes are not claimed timely (it happens) the state or federal government comes in and opens/ inventories the safety deposit boxes. Can you imagine it if they find your seed words and a few Trezors in there? Major problems.

And then the bank is turned into a Mickey D’s.