Bitcoin, NFT, email, 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 creating bitcoin, the very first cryptocurrency. Enough time to amass a huge stash of bitcoins, which are estimated to be worth over a billion dollars.

However. He left – it is unknown whether he is 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 cash, but for now, it remains a buried treasure in the blockchain universe.

The access code is the key

Blockchains? Basically, it’s a hyper-secure cryptocurrency wallet. It is said to be inviolable! And it is to this day. Satoshi Nakamoto’s is the dream of the crypto community around the world, which seeks to unravel the mystery and access the loot. Because this play money is a bearer security. Whoever has 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

You don’t need to have Satoshi Nakamoto’s fortune for the greatest anguish to settle among the heirs. Because they, too, will need PINs and other access codes to your 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 since it is accessible to everyone and complicates things in the event of divorce, theft, 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 close social media accounts or keep them active? Who will have access to the online payment account, such as PayPal, on which the money is present? Who will be responsible for keeping the photos stored on my computer or smartphone?

So many questions that make families divide at the time of a death, when no one agrees. There is every reason to settle them in the same way as the transmission of classic assets: 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. Okay 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 file of the last will provisions and accompanied by a separate document containing all the elements that allow the transfer of the digital heritage” .

And of course, access codes are essential. The best thing is, for example, to store them in the form of a USB stick – as long as there are no bugs – or a handwritten letter in a safe.

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

Why this separation from the authentic will? Prevent the codes from being disclosed to all heirs, even those who are not interested, when reading the aforementioned will. Nothing is simple in the dematerialized world, which reveals its flaws, its complications and its impasses.

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