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Whether or not they already have estate plans, some Ohio residents may not consider digital assets as part of an estate. However, these assets, which range from social media accounts to bank accounts online, are numerous and can be valuable. A bitcoin account could be among the most valuable of these types of assets.

The legal system has not caught up with digital assets, and laws on their distribution vary. One complication with a bitcoin account is that it is possible to hold the account and die without loved ones ever knowing it existed. The currency would simply remain inaccessible in a digital wallet.

An heir will need the key to the account in order to access it. This can be stored on a thumb drive or written down on a piece of paper. However, an owner might feel that these measures are insufficient from a security standpoint since if an unscrupulous person got hold of the key, the account could be emptied without anyone ever finding out. It is possible to set up what is known as a “time-locked” transition that transfers the coins into someone’s account at a date in the future although if the owner is not yet dead, the transfer still goes through. Another option is a third-party service that provides a physical place to deposit the bitcoin key.

A person may want to talk to an attorney about the estate planning tools that might be appropriate for both digital and traditional assets. There may be more to the plan than simply creating a will. For example, a person might want an heir to only receive an inheritance after completing an education, getting a certain type of job or reaching a certain age. A trust can specify these conditions and also ensure that the matter is not delayed in probate.