As digital currencies face a downturn, Charlie Biello takes to Twitter to share the research on the downfall. Photo: Bloomberg
JOHANNESBURG - With the rise in the number of South Africans holding cryptocurrencies, international family office Stonehage Fleming says many investors have failed to give their beneficiaries a full picture of their crypto holdings, meaning that in the event of death, it would be very difficult for them to access these assets.

“As a young industry, with little regulation, it is crucial for investors to become more responsible in their attitude towards cryptocurrency investing,” says Eran Brill, director in the investment management division at Stonehage Fleming in South Africa.

He says investors need a storage execution strategy for account information as well as advice on the implications regarding the deceased estate, including access to accounts, distribution to beneficiaries, and tax implications.

With every layer of protection you add, another layer of complexity at death is created.

One way to secure access to accounts and e-wallets is to hold partial passwords in various locations through a trustworthy third party. Only specified people in selected locations should have permission to access this information, Brill says.

The limitations on transferring money from one country to another may seem irrelevant for investors, who simply drag coins from one e-wallet to another. However, Brill says cryptocurrency should be treated like any other asset class, and as part of the estate. Exchange controls, estate duties and ownership all need to be considered and discussed with someone who already has a good understanding of the general composition of your estate as a whole.