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Digital Assets and Estate Planning

Digital Assets and Estate Planning

Since the early 2000’s our lives have changed significantly, and we have shifted to an all ‘digital culture’. If you think about it, our letters are now electronic, photos, videos stored on a ‘cloud’, we pay bills online and our digital footprint as a whole is growing on social media. Online presence has now become a day-to-day part of our life. Since 2009, when bitcoin was founded, there has been a huge increase in the number of Crypto assets flooding the market. This has transformed the entire investment industry. In June 2021 the Financial Conduct authority reported that approximately 2.3 million adults in the UK now have crypto assets such as bitcoin. 

What is Crypto Currency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital asset that can be bought, spent, saved or sold. The difference between cryptocurrency and traditional money or assets is that cryptocurrency is secured, distributed and traded using special ‘blockchain’ technology on decentralised computer networks. Cryptocurrency is stored in a digital wallet either hardware or web based and money can be transferred via a public key or a private key. 

With digital assets and our online presence, a whole host of potential issues can arise. Our social media profiles on sites such as Instagram or Facebook may have little financial value and benefit to our families. However, it is increasingly common for someone to have (for example) an online only bank account or an Ebay Account or PayPal or Betfair (to name but a few!). This is alongside any crypto currency they may have as well.  

In some cases, the value of the assets can be particularly large. It is important to remember that HMRC’s Internal Inheritance Tax Manual on crypto assets confirms that crypto assets will be property for the purposes of Inheritance Tax.  

People have lost or are unaware of millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency because owners have died without leaving a contingency plan. Cryptocurrency will inevitably begin to be part of a deceased’s estate (money, property and possessions) and can be left in a will to beneficiaries (the person(s) inheriting). The difficulty is accessing and transferring it. 

Many family members are increasingly experiencing unnecessary stress and anxiety in locating and dealing with these assets. Traditional methods of ascertaining what assets and belongings people owned, involved a physical search of their property and checking the title of the property at the Land Registry. These are of course still important but unfortunately with no planning, discovery of an online account or bitcoin or other digital assets is impossible!  

What can I do to protect my digital assets?

The preparation of a valid will is extremely important. There are many ways that you can make sure loved ones have the relevant information:  

1) Plan ahead – It is imperative that the person who you have appointed to administer your Estate is aware that you have crypto currency or digital investments. Without this knowledge it would be next to impossible for your Executor to be aware of this. 

2) Take an inventory of your online accounts and consider what you would like to happen to each account – not just emails and social media accounts but file sharing, payment services and backups. 

3) Determine the best way to communicate your accounts and wishes to your family. Some clients prefer setting these out in a schedule or addendum to the Will and this is kept with the Will. Some prefer to store this online with certain currency exchanges who have procedures in place for what happens when the investor dies. However, it is important that you make sure that you know the procedure and if in doubt check.  

  4) Whatever option is preferred it important to make sure that passwords, pin numbers and other confidential information that carries a security risk must NOT be included in the Will. The Will becomes a public document once Probate is granted and so there is a risk to the security of the account.  

It is best to consult your solicitor and explore options to include instructions regarding your digital assets in your will or other estate planning documents. 

Despite adopting new digital lives, your desire to leave lasting memories and mementos to your families when you are deceased remains paramount. We can guide you on whether a specific gift of your most valuable online assets is worth including in your Will and advise you on best how to ensure that your Executors who will administer your Estate will know how to locate your assets.  This area of law is evolving rapidly and as with all Wills, especially any Will including digital assets should be reviewed regularly. One thing that is clear is failing to plan is not an option. By understanding policies and planning, we can ensure your digital legacies can be passed to future generations. 

Contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Ruislip, Middlesex

The locally-based lawyers at The Sethi Partnership Solicitors have been providing specialist legal advice for a diverse range of clients since 1994. Whatever your circumstances, speak to one of our trusted solicitors today to discuss your case. 

To arrange an initial appointment, call us today on 020 3856 8156 or complete our online enquiry form and we’ll be in touch. 

 

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We have used their services twice and both the time we have received excellent service. They were very professional and patient as they needed to be because we had issues with our housing company. We highly recommend their service. Specially thanks to Misbha and Sharanya for their hard work got through our purchase done before tax holiday finished.We can’t thank them enough.
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We engaged Anna Randall from The Sethi Partnership, on a referral from our estate agent, to guide us through the legal part of our sale of our property in April 2021. We were really pleased with the way Anna handled our sale, so would highly recommend using TSP and Anna more specifically.We found Anna to be professional, super responsive, and thorough. In what was already a very busy period for her (because of the stamp duty holiday) she helped us complete on our sale in a shorter than average period of time. Anna guided us through the entire process seamlessly, and was available to assist any time we had a query. We had a good comparison of other lawyers too - having only months earlier sold a rental property through a large consumer law firm.Our sale was reasonably complicated and we needed help to find a unique situation that worked for both parties - the buyer and the seller. Anna helped us come up with a fair solution to progress our sale. Anna made everything through the process seamless/easy.We were so impressed by Anna's work that we subsequently used her on another sale, and we now have two family members who are using her for their sale - both also equally impressed.
From start to finish the process was flawless. I wanted a solicitor who could do everything remotely as I did not live in the area. Sharanya kept me updated with the process and was always courteous and polite. I would recommend the Partnership if you are thinking of selling/buying your house.
We used Sethi Partnership Solicitors for our recent house move and could not have been happier. Caroline Hornett-White handled our move and we cannot sing her praises enough. Efficient, thorough and always quick to respond to any issues or queries we had. It's our third house move and Caroline Hornett-White has been BY FAR the best solicitor we've worked with and would happily do so again.
Very happy going with Sethi for our house purchase, the estate agent recommend another firm but they completely messed up the other links in the chain but not Sethi who had their eye on the ball from start to finish. Misbha worked hard to help us get through before the tax deadline and helped explain the various legal issues.You may not get immediate responses but they are professionals and know what their doing - just let them get on!
I cannot praise Malcolm Turner highly enough. He dealt with my mother’s estate, including a complicated trust, in a prompt, efficient and sympathetic manner. From our very first conversation, I knew I could rely on him. He always responded speedily to my emails and patiently answered any queries I had. He went on to deal with two property sales and answered queries relating to my Will. I consider myself very lucky to have found him!
Excellent service for over 20+ years, Malcolm Turner has provided a very professional, prompt and friendly service for our family. He has dealt with 2 property purchases, 3 property sales. A Power of Attorney & a Will. He explains the transactions in a very clear precise manner and his service is extremely quick! Thank you
Cormac, Anna and Misbha were the amazing Sethi team who ensured first, that I got my house sale completed by the June stamp-duty deadline and second, when I bought another one at auction five days later, they managed to get that completed in just sixteen days following the hammer coming down! I was most impressed by the service and attention to detail of this firm on all aspects of the work they did for me. I highly recommend them if you are either buying or selling a home, or dealing with complex issues around title. Top marks. Five stars all round and thank you all very, very much, you are appreciated!
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I have been working in the property industry for over 13 years and have to say Anna Randall at the Sethi Partnership is by far and away the best conveyancing solicitor I have ever come across.I cannot recommend her enough. First class service, professional, polite and thorough.
I would not hesitate to appoint Anna again and I would highly recommend her to anyone looking into buying or selling their property. From the start to completion her services were exceptional. Very responsive and she made the journey of buying our first property stress free. It was an absolute pleasure working with her. Thank you Anna for being a superstar and working around the clock to get us into our dream place!
We were very impressed with the way our solicitor Malcolm dealt with our wills. He was very helpful and answered all our questions. He did not give us specific suggestions but helped us make up our own minds with confidence. J+S
Great Service at competitive rates. Mishba Ali was very helpful and prompt all through my dealings with her.All queries were dealt in timely manner and i would recommend her for the professional service provided and thank her for getting my paper work completed in time
We used Sethi Partnership for conveyancing and I would highly recommend Caroline Hornett-White. Caroline is very professional, efficient kept us updated and advised us where we needed through out the process. I have already recommended Caroline and Sethi partnership to my friend who will be looking at conveyancing in the future.
Anna Randall from Sethi Partnership supported in the sale of our house and purchase of our new home. It was clearly a very busy time with the rush to complete before the original stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of March, and can say that Anna was always professional balancing the communication between email and phone, and spending the time to provide advice when required.I have already recommended Anna at The Sethi Partnership Solicitors to family looking to purchase property.
I used the Sethi Partnership for the conveyancing of the sale of my house in Hatch End and was very impressed with the efficient and effective service provided. The firm carried out the sale with little fuss and with minimal input from me. They were also responsive when I had questions. Their fees were in line with their original quote and were reasonable. I have no hesitation in recommending their services.
Anna (in conveyancing) was brilliant and kept me in the loop throughout. She is very experienced and leveraged her knowledge from past cases appropriately, as well as being meticulous in her work. Thank you for all the hard work!
I was assisted by Anna Randall with my flat purchase. It was always very easy to get in contact with her by email and telephone and I received regular updates throughout the transaction. Anna's advice helped me make difficult key decisions regarding my purchase which put me in a much better position as a purchaser.
I'd highly recommend The Sethi Partnership Solicitors and in particular Anna Randall.Anna is extremely professional and most importantly responsive, we had daily call's/emails with updates regarding our sale & purchase.We cant thank you enough.
We instructed Sethi to look after the sale of our house and purchase of a different one. We were very happy with the outcome and welcomed the candid and professional advice offered about various difficulties that arose in the purchase.What stops us from giving 5 stars is that we would have preferred to have had regular updates, even if just to say that nothing had happened, and that some of the documentation we received was hard for us to follow as it was in the form of template drafts that had not been appropriately adapted for our circumstances.However, we would unreservedly recommend the company, and in particular Anna Randall, who took very good care of us throughout.
Anna Randall dealt with my house sale. Very professional and competent, would recommend her to anyone, and use her again in the future. Great service.
Anna Randall you are a star again.... extremely efficient with extensive knowledge, helped our long-winded house purchase/sale proceed to fruition despite all the pitfalls thrown at you by our buyers. Highly recommended and details already passed onto friends who are currently buying property..
We recently sold our beloved house in London right in the middle of the COVID lockdown and restrictions. Anna and team carried out a seamless job with the conveyancing from start to completion. They were responsive and pro-active at all times which was even more important when we were abroad at times. We look forward to working with you again. Thank you!
We were very happy with the way Sethi Partnership helped with the purchase of our new property.Anna was very professional and thorough in her approach which gave us extra piece of mind and security as we knew they had our best interests at heart. Would highly recommend the firm to anyone and will be sure to use them again in the future.
Anna was instrumental in making our house sale and purchase a success! She always seemed to have our best interests at heart and gave sound and timely advice with regards to some very complex matters. Excellent service and we will definitely be using The Sethi Partnership Solicitors again. Highly recommend!
I was pleased with and grateful for Caroline's work on my sale and purchase. Very responsive and provided a professional and efficient service. While other parts of the chain were being slow, Caroline was the sane voice at the end of the phone. Thanks!
We were very happy with the Probate services Malcolm Turner provided us with. He explained everything in the right level of detail and was extremely polite and understanding. The advice he gave us, and the action he took on our behalf lead to a successful conclusion of these matters. I have since recommended Malcom Turner & Sethi Partnership to friend who is now going through Probate with his Mother's estate.
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The Barn House,
38 Meadow Way
Eastcote
Ruislip
Middlesex
HA4 8TB
tel: 020 3974 1576
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