Safeguard Your Cryptocurrency Assets With Estate Planning

July 10, 2018

One of the biggest appeals of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is that it is decentralized, unregulated, and anonymous. There are no financial institutions controlling it, and unless you tell someone you own digital currency, it remains a secret. When it comes to estate planning that kind of secrecy can be disastrous. In fact, without the appropriate planning protections in place, all of your crypto wealth will disappear the moment you die or become incapacitated, leaving your family with absolutely no way to recover it. Indeed, we’re facing a potential crisis whereby millions—perhaps billions—of dollars’ worth of family wealth could potentially vanish into thin air unless you take action to protect your digital assets with estate planning. Fortunately, putting the appropriate safeguards in place is a fairly simple process for a Personal Family Lawyer® experienced with cryptocurrency. The first step in securing your crypto assets is to let your heirs know you own it. This can be done by including your digital currency in your net-worth statement listing all of your assets and liabilities. Along with the amount of cryptocurrency you own, you should also include detailed instructions about where it’s located and how to find the instructions to access it. But you want those instructions to be kept in an absolutely secure location because anyone who has them can take your cryptocurrency. Even if your heirs know you own cryptocurrency, they won’t be able to access it unless they know the encrypted passcodes needed to unlock your account. Indeed, there are numerous stories of crypto owners losing their own passcodes and then being so desperate to recover or remember them that they dug through trash cans and even hired hypnotists. The best way to secure your passcodes is by storing them in a digital wallet. The safest option is a “cold” wallet, or one that is not connected to the internet and thus cannot be hacked. Cold wallets include USB drives as well as “paper” wallets, which are simply the passcodes printed on paper—and ideally stored in a fireproof safe. But as with the existence of your crypto assets, the only way these wallets are of any use to your heirs is for them to know where they are and how to access them in the event of your incapacity or death. So make sure these instructions are included in your estate plan and your Personal Family Lawyer® knows about the assets and where to locate the instructions on how to access them. Just as it would be foolish to store your money in a secret safe and not tell anybody where it is or give them the combination to open it, it’s just as foolhardy not to take the appropriate steps to protect your cryptocurrency through proper estate planning. Since digital currency is such a recent phenomenon, not all estate planning attorneys are familiar with it, but with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, you can rest assured we have the knowledge and experience to help you safeguard your digital wealth just as effectively as all of your other assets. This article is a service of Bob Prousalis, Personal Family […]

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I Don’t Have Kids, So Why Do I Need Estate Planning? Part 2

July 4, 2018

Last week, we shared the first part of our series on the importance of estate planning for those without children. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. Here in part two, we discuss the other risks involved for those who forego estate planning. www.propaplaw.com/blog Someone will have power over your health care Estate planning isn’t just about passing on your assets when you die. In fact, some of the most critical parts of planning have nothing to do with your money at all, but are aimed at protecting you while you’re still very much alive. Advance planning allows you to name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself. For example, if you’re temporarily unconscious following a car accident and unable to give doctors permission to perform a potentially risky medical treatment, it’s not always clear who’ll be asked to make that decision for you. If you have a romantic partner but aren’t married and haven’t granted them medical power of attorney, the court will likely have a family member, not your partner, make that decision. Depending on your family, that person may make decisions contrary to what you or your partner would want. Indeed, if you don’t want your estranged brother to inherit your property, you probably don’t want him to have the power to make life-and-death decisions about your medical care, either. But that’s exactly what could happen if you don’t proactively plan. Even worse, your family members who have priority to make decisions for you could keep your dearest friends away from your bedside in the event of your hospitalization or incapacity. Or family members who don’t share your values about the types of food you eat, or the types of medical care you receive, could be the one’s making decisions about how you’ll be cared for. Even if, or maybe especially if, you don’t have kids, you need to do estate planning in order to name health care decisions-makers for yourself and provide instructions on how you want decisions made. Someone will get power over your finances As with health-care decisions, if you become incapacitated and haven’t legally named someone to handle your finances while you’re unable to do so, the court will pick someone for you. The way to avoid this is by naming someone you trust to hold power of attorney for you in the event of your incapacity. Durable power of attorney is an estate planning tool that gives the person you choose immediate authority to manage your financial matters if you’re incapacitated. This agent will have a broad range of powers to handle things like paying your bills and taxes, running your business, collecting your Social Security benefits, selling your home, as well as managing your banking and investment accounts. Because these powers are so broad, it’s critical that you only give this power to someone you absolutely trust, and ideally, with the guidance of a lawyer who can watch out for your best interests. The fact that durable power of attorney is granted as soon as […]

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I Don’t Have Kids, So Why Do I Need Estate Planning? Part 1

June 26, 2018

It’s a common misconception to think that if you don’t have children, you  don’t need to worry about estate planning. But the fact is, it can be even MORE important to do estate planning if you have no children.

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Ensure the Security of Your Senior Parents’ Identity and Financial Assets

June 19, 2018

Today, we live in an uber-connected world, where nearly every type of financial transaction—shopping, banking, investment management—can be made online using a computer or mobile device.

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6 Steps to Select and Name the Right Guardians for Your Children—Part 2

June 12, 2018

Last week, we shared the first part of our series on selecting and naming the right guardians for your children. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. Here in part two, we discuss the final three steps in the process. propaplaw.kidsprotectionplan.com

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6 Steps to Select and Name the Right Guardians for Your Children—Part 1

June 5, 2018

One of your most important responsibilities as a parent is to select and legally document guardians for your children. This doesn’t mean just naming godparents or trusting the grandparents will step in if necessary. It means consciously deciding who would raise your children if you cannot. And then it means legally documenting your choices and making sure the people you’ve chosen know what to do if they’re ever called upon.

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Estate Planning Mistakes Seniors (Including You or Your Parents) Can’t Afford to Make

May 29, 2018

Estate planning really should be considered as soon as you acquire your first asset, have a child, or step into adulthood in any truly meaningful way. And yet many of us put it off for far too long, leaving ourselves and our families at risk of getting stuck in the court system in the event of an unexpected accident, illness, or injury.

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How and When to Talk to Your Children About Money

May 22, 2018

Whether you consider yourself wealthy or not, you need to think about how (and when) you’ll talk with your children about money, whether they’re little kids, tweens, teens, or already adults.

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The Key Differences Between Wills and Trusts

May 15, 2018

When discussing estate planning, a will is what most people think of first. Indeed, wills have been the most popular method for passing on assets to heirs for hundreds of years. But wills aren’t your only option. And if you rely on a will alone to pass on what matters, you’re guaranteeing your family has to go to court when you die.

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Before Your Kids Leave For College, Make Sure They Sign These Documents

May 8, 2018

With high school graduation coming up, many parents will soon watch their children become adults (at least in the eyes of the law) and leave home to pursue their education and career goals.

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