Jennifer Zegel, Practice Leader of Kleinbard’s Trusts and Estates group, is quoted in today’s Forbes article – Lessons After QuadrigaCX: Crypto Estate Planning. The article discusses the critical importance of including digital assets in an estate and business succession plan in the wake of the discovery that roughly $190 million of clients’ assets held in offline accounts by the Canadian exchange, QuadrigaCX, is inaccessible. The founder of the company, Gerald Cotten, who had sole control over the offline accounts died suddenly without leaving the information required for access. Cotten’s failure to create a digital plan to ensure the accessibility of clients’ assets creates monstrous business challenges and legal issues. Similarly, the billionaire Matthew Mellon, who died under suspicious circumstances in April of 2018, left hundreds of millions of the cryptocurrency XRP locked up without a plan for entry. The mistakes made by Cotten and Mellon could have been easily avoided with proper planning.
In the article, Zegel covers four initial “key steps” in protecting digital assets including cryptocurrency holdings:
- Make an initial inventory of your digital assets
- Meet with a lawyer to determine what’s transferrable
- Decide how to set up your digital estate
- Revisit your plan
Jennifer’s trusts and estates practice has a special focus in estate planning and the estate administration of digital assets, which is becoming a fast growing and increasingly complex area. She is at the forefront of this emerging section of property transfers, which also overlaps and intersects with technology, privacy, and accessibility considerations. Jennifer regularly counsels clients on how to incorporate digital asset planning into an estate plan or business succession plan.