Research carried out by Co-op Legal Services has found that nearly 10 million people in the UK have purchased some form of cryptocurrency. This is an increase of 558% since the beginning of 2018 when a mere 3% of the population owned cryptocurrency.
The research has led to warnings that if individuals do not hold inventories of their digital assets and make these readily available to their executors on death, the assets (which could be of considerable value) are likely to form part of the UK’s unclaimed assets pot instead of passing to loved ones. This pot now stands at £1.25 billion and consists of unclaimed funds in banks, building societies, pensions, and investments.
The growing popularity of digital assets, such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, will continue to pose a problem for executors unless they have full knowledge of their existence and access details. Executors are responsible for establishing the full extent of an estate, declaring this appropriately to HM Revenue & Customs, and ensuring that the assets pass to the intended beneficiaries. This could become an increasingly difficult and costly process if the executors have to go hunting for evidence of digital assets.
If you would like further information on how to incorporate digital assets into your estate planning, or if you need advice on administering an estate with digital assets, please contact Katherine Hague or Kerri Woodrow.