Can you inherit Bitcoins? (+ Step by Step Guide)

Bitcoin inheritance

“Not your keys, not your coins”. It’s a famous quote in the crypto community and means if you don’t have the right private keys, you can’t spend your crypto. It’s true for every asset on every blockchain. However, if you are no more, is it possible that you can inherit Bitcoin so your loved ones can have access to your wealth?

Yes, it is possible if you take the necessary steps, so your children etc. can get access to your crypto funds if you are not around anymore.

So, here is a simple method to store your Bitcoins/cryptocurrencies in a secure way and be able to inherit them.

#1 Preparation

Know how much you own and where you store it

First, we ask ourselves where we store our funds (exchange, cold wallet, desktop, mobile phone, etc.) and what platform has how much value on it. Here is a simple table as an example.

NameTypeCryptoValue (USD)
Exchange-1Exchange1 BTC
2 ETH
100 XRP
$10k
$800
$100
Mobile phoneWallet0.1 BTC$1k
Cold walletWallet10 BTC
100 ETH
1000 XRP
$100k
$40k
$1k
Liquidity Pool XYDeFi2 WETH
2 BAL
$800
$10

Tip: You can use a platform like cointracking.info to track all your assets and the value of it. It has advanced features and other people, who you give access to your cointracking.info account, know instantly where your assets are and how many coins are on a specific platform/service/wallet.

However, it is a third-party service and carries some risks like service failure, going out of business, being online and your account can be hacked. On the other side, it has advanced features to track your assets, has great portfolio statistics and is easy to use.

I would recommend setting up both, a online and a offline version, just in case something happens in the future. If you make the offline version described above with the table, update it on a frequent basis, for instance, every 6 months or one year.

Tip: Analyzing the types gives you the advantage of writing an instruction that fits a certain type and could be used universally in most cases.

You don’t have to go overboard here. It’s just important that your loved ones know where they can find your assets and how much they can expect to get.

Plan your split

Who gets how much of your portfolio? Is there someone who doesn’t like a certain project or just wants one coin for instance Bitcoin? There are two ways to split your portfolio.

  • First method:
NameShare of your portfolioComment
Wife75%Only wants Bitcoin or Ethereum
Child-115%
Child-215%
  • Second method: You can also mix in a fixed value, for instance, $1k goes to child-1 (Example below).
Asset namePeopleShare
BitcoinWife
Child-1
Child-2
75%
15%
15%
EthereumWife
Child-1
Child-2
75%
15%
15%
CardanoChild-1
Child-2
$1k
Rest

Analyze if your loved ones can use the technologies

They probably know how to use a website and therefore, it is probably easy for them if they want to sell your Bitcoins directly on an exchange. However, what if they want to use a cold wallet, but you are not around to tell them how to use it?

Think about it. Is there somebody else who knows how to use it? Can they get professional help from a friend or another person? The crypto space is known for some tricky scams, so they need a proper education before they use your funds from your wallet(s)/service(s), etc.

You can either tell them how to do it, write it down how they can do it, or you can ask friends if they are willing to help them. Use a table like this to analyze the situation.

NameComment
WifeHas a cold wallet and used an exchange before. Probably doesn’t need help and could help the children. Doesn’t know what a liquidity pool is and never used one.
Chid-1Used an exchange to trade some Bitcoins. Probably needs help with wallets.
Child-2Never used crypto. Needs help with everything.

Important things to keep in mind

Storage

You are probably using different storages for different use cases, for instance, a cold wallet for your long term holdings and a mobile wallet or desktop wallet for your coins you want to spend the next week or month.

However, you probably hold more value in cold storage (cold wallet) than a mobile or desktop wallet. You should also account for that if you plan your split, etc.

Research on storage

You should always do your own research before you start using a specific storage. Also, if you don’t know what storage is suitable for you, here are simple guidelines that should help you decide what storage you should use in specific cases.

  • Mobile storage: Mobile storage is usually safer than desktop storage. The reason for that being is that the operating systems are built in a more secure way because people use a mobile phone more than desktop devices. However, because the wallet is online the majority of the time, hold only a small to medium amount of coins on your mobile storage if you have cold storage (cold wallet).
  • Desktop storage: Again, if you have cold storage, store the majority of coins on it. Only store a small to medium amount of your coins on a desktop wallet.
  • Cold storage: Cold storage is probably the best option for long term savings. However, it costs usually $50+. You can also use multiple cold storage devices if you want to. Cold storage is usually a USB stick that holds your private keys and can behold offline. I would recommend using one of the two most common cold storage devices, either Trezor or Ledger.
  • Paper storage: That’s the old fashion way to store your crypto. You write your seed down on a paper and store it in a secure safe. However, this strategy is outdated and everybody who has paper storage or uses one should replace it with cold storage or multi-sig storage.
  • Multi-sig storage: A lot of people think that they need multiple people to use a multi-sig address. However, that is not the case and you can have complete control over your assets but multiple keys to unlock them (for instance, cold wallet and your laptop). You could achieve multi-factor security and have complete control.
  • Cloud storage: A cloud storage should only be used if you don’t really have another option. If you really need cloud storage to store a backup of your wallet, at least encrypt it with a really strong password and delete this file as soon as possible. Also, make sure to clear the trash because most cloud services move the files into the trash and don’t delete them instantly. Keep in mind that big companies like Google, Amazon, etc. control the cloud storage and could lock your account, lose the files, etc. and you could lose access to your backup.

Always make your own research before you start using one of the presented technologies.

Storage experience

Are there some storage options you already tried? What did you like and what not? Include this in your research for storage.

PINs, fingerprints, passwords, and more

You should give a thought to what to do if you use for instance fingerprints to secure your mobile wallet. So, if you are no more anymore, it’s nearly impossible for your loved ones to get access to your mobile wallet.

Also, don’t use weak passwords, PINs, and store them in a secure way. For instance, don’t use ‘password’ as your exchange password. Remember, hackers have a huge incentive to hack exchange accounts because nobody can revert transactions on the blockchain.

Don’t make things too complex

Too many passwords, PINs, devices, etc. could make your system unusable. Have a good balance between ease of use and security.

Geographical diversification

Store your backups on multiple geo-locations. Also, make sure these backups are stored securely and access-controlled. If you store backups at your home, you can use a fireproof safe. You can also store a backup in a vault in the bank.

Never store all of your backups on the same geo-location and make backups of your estate plan too.

#2 Develop the plan

Now you bring everything together. Build your own plan and include the things I mentioned above to improve it further.

#3 Try the plan

Try the plan on yourself

Use small volume transactions for testing. If you use multi-wallets or exchanges, you don’t have to send every asset to it, because all coins have similar functionality and you don’t have to waste your time sending 10 different transactions on 10 different blockchains and wait until they are confirmed.

Ask somebody else to try out the plan

Maybe you don’t want that your children or wife have instant access to your funds and you just want to try out if your strategy works. Find a friend or other person, give him the instructions, and let him do it. You can also implement further feedback into your strategy to make things easier or more user friendly.

Why you shouldn’t try out the plan on your loved ones

There is always a chance that your loved ones steal your assets or do something with them that you don’t want. As sad as it sounds, but you can truly only trust yourself, but of course, I never wish somebody things like that.

In the end, you have to decide who you choose to test your plan on. I mentioned the risks above.

#4 Execute/Implement the plan

Now it’s time to change passwords, PINS, etc. to get to the final stage. Afterward, transfer your assets to the devices or services (cold storage, exchanges, mobile wallet, etc.) and prepare everything else.

There you go. You managed that your loved ones can inherit your coins and tokens even if you are not there anymore. So, they can use your wealth for good things in the future.

Most people don’t like to talk about death and what should happen if they are not there anymore. However, especially with crypto, it’s necessary to take the right steps, because there is nobody who can recover your wallet if you don’t have the right private key.

“Not your keys, not your coins”.

Also, don’t delay making the plan. It’s just not worth risking losing everything after you invested your hard-earned money.

Maximilian Groß

I'm a software engineer. I'm the owner of FireStake.com and know the crypto space since 2016. Furthermore, I share everything I learn about crypto on this blog.

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