In December 2018 Gerald Cotton, Chief Executive Officer of QuadrigaCX, died unexpectedly at the age of 30. QuadrigaCX was a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange organisation.
Cryptocurrencies are stored in a “virtual wallet” which uses a string of random characters called a “public key”, for use when sending and receiving the cryptocurrency. A separate “private key” allows the owner access to the money in the wallet.
If an owner dies without passing on the private key, access to the wallet is simply not possible.
Gerald Cotten had sole access to the digital wallets of QuadrigaCX containing more than 180million Canadian dollars (£105million) belonging to the company’s 115,000 customers. He seemingly didn’t pass on the private key to anyone, nor did he write it down anywhere/
What does this mean for you?
Well apart from cryptocurrency you may other hidden accounts and this case highlights the extreme consequences of not leaving suitable arrangements for access to such funds after your death. Write down the access information (usernames, passwords etc.) somewhere for the recovery of the monies in your accounts, but ……….
DO NOT PUT THIS INFORMATION IN YOUR WILL
It’s worth remembering that every Last Will and Testament becomes a public document following a death so quoting passwords in there is not a good idea. But what you can do is point towards them in your Will or write a “Letter of Wishes” to be stored with your Will. A Letter of Wishes is only read by your Executors so effectively this information is kept private.