Bitcoin, NFT, emails, photos … Inheriting digital heritage, how does it work?

Will anyone ever inherit Satoshi Nakamoto’s virtual fortune? Maybe none! He disappeared completely in 2011, just two years after he created bitcoin, the first ever cryptocurrency. Enough time to amass a huge supply of bitcoin, the value of which is estimated at over a billion dollars.

However. He’s gone – no one knows if he’s dead or alive, and his name is a pseudonym – without leaving an access code to any heir or trusted person.

No one can recover this currency, which could be converted into cold cash, but for now it remains a buried treasure in the blockchain universe.

The access code is the key

Blockchain? Basically, it is an oversecure cryptocurrency wallet. It is said to be inviolable! And it is up to date. Satoshi Nakamoto’s is the dream of the crypto community around the world, seeking to unravel the mystery and access the loot. Because this virtual money is a bearer security. Whoever owns the code has the key to the “safe” and owns its contents.

It’s the same with NFTs, “non-fungible tokens”. These are files corresponding, for example, to unique digital works of art, which can be sold and purchased thanks to the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies.

All families are potential Satoshi Nakamoto

There is no need to have the luck of Satoshi Nakamoto for the greatest anguish to be resolved among the heirs. Because they too will need PIN codes and other access codes to their phone, computer, bank accounts and dematerialized contracts to carry out the succession. It remains to find a way to bequeath these sesame seeds to the right recipients, but not necessarily during his lifetime.

In other words, the small notebook with all the details next to the computer is not the right solution, as it is accessible to everyone and complicates things in case of divorce, burglary, family quarrels. Hiding it somewhere can be worse. It may take some time for the family to find out and thus slow down the succession, or even block it, if it is too well hidden.

Designate the heirs of the identifiers

Who will be able to read the emails by obtaining the messaging code? Who will take care of closing social media accounts or keeping them active? Who will have access to the online payment account, such as PayPal, on which there is money? Who will be responsible for keeping the photos stored on the computer or smartphone?

So many questions that make families divide at the moment of a death, when no one agrees. There is every interest in regulating them in the same way as the transmission of classic goods: home, works of art hanging in the living room, bank accounts, etc. You just have to remember to assign the codes to the people of your choice. Ok but how?

According to Maître Michel Kremer, notary in Puget-Ville, in the Var, “the best solution remains the authentic will, drawn up with the assistance of the notary. It will be registered in the central archive of the dispositions of the last wishes and accompanied by a separate document containing all the elements that allow the transfer of digital assets”.

And, of course, the access codes are essential. The best thing is, for example, to store them in the form of a USB stick – as long as it doesn’t give bugs – or a handwritten letter in a safe.

Another recommended solution: the holographic will, “provided that it is also drawn up by a notary to avoid errors that could make it obsolete”.

Why this separation from the authentic will? Preventing the codes from being revealed to all heirs, even strangers, at the time of reading the same will. Nothing is simple in the dematerialized world, which reveals its flaws, its complications and its impasses.

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