QuestionWhat happens to your digital currency if you die and don't have a will?

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What happens to your digital currency if you die and don't have a will? — Question на Hopes&Fears
What happens to your digital currency if you die and don't have a will? — Question на Hopes&Fears

When we die in the "real" world, we have the right to bequeath, to anyone, our material assets. This includes any property or investments both physical and monetary. So what happens to our digital assets in the event of our death?

These days, it is possible to accrue legitimate virtual wealth, whether it be through crypto-currencies such as bitcoin or within games such as World of Warcraft. Bitcoin continues to be used for an increasing variety of goods and services. Even online games have developed their own booming economies. In fact, these in-game markets have grown so large and unwieldy in some cases, that developers have begun hiring economists to manage them.

Do we have the same legal ability to transfer ownership these assets as we do their real world counterparts? What’s the difference? Well, it’s complicated. Since these virtual accounts exist within proprietary systems they each follow their own sets of rules.

Whether or not individuals besides the deceased party are even allowed to legally access those systems is still up for debate. Many companies disagree with allowing access at all, claiming privacy issues. However, Delaware passed a law late last year to allow broad access to digital assets for an executor or an heir. And just last month Facebook began allowing users to name a legacy account holder to maintain their profile in the event of their death.

In any case, one organization says it is essential that we at least leave behind a detailed guide for how to handle these assets after we die. Plus, there is no shortage of online services that offer to maintain the digital legacies of the deceased. If anything, without proper attention being given to what we store online, it could be lost forever.

We reached out to some experts to find out the exact details of how to handle our digital assets when we die.

Paypal’s Guide

for Closing the Account 
of a Deceased Relative

 ONLY THE ACCOUNT OWNER can close their account, unless the owner is deceased.

 TO CLOSE THE ACCOUNT of someone who died, the estate executor needs to fax the following to (402) 537-5732:

— A cover sheet that states the account holder is deceased and the executor wants to close the PayPal account.

— A copy of the death certificate for the account holder.

— A copy of the deceased account holder's will or legal documentation that provides the information regarding the executor.

— A copy of a photo ID of the executor.

 THE DOCUMENTATION will be reviewed and, if approved, the account will be closed. If there are funds in the PayPal account, a check will be issued in the account holder's name.