Estate center

We’re here to help through this difficult time

Managing a loved one's affairs after they pass can be overwhelming. We can be a resource.

What to do after losing a loved one

Every situation is unique

As you navigate this difficult time, you will be confronted with various complex matters. It’s completely normal to feel a range of emotions.

You may need some help

An estate attorney may reduce some of the complexity. Consider speaking with a trusted advisor or tax professional for assistance.

Unchained is a resource

While Unchained can’t offer legal to tax advice, we can help you understand the process and provide tailored assistance.

First steps to consider

Step 1:

Seek help from trusted sources

Consult with your attorney, tax advisor, and financial advisor to discuss the necessary steps to finalize your loved one’s financial matters. You may want to engage these professionals to help you through the next several months or years.

Step 2:

Determine who is authorized to manage the estate

If you are named as an executor in a will, you need to submit forms to probate court to get a letter of testament. A letter of testamentary (also called an executor appointment) is a legal document that proves you have the authority to make decisions for an estate.

Step 3:

Gather important information and documents

Even if you’re not in charge of your loved one’s estate, you’ll probably have a role in helping the executor gather important personal documents. Important steps you or the executor should take include:

Request at least 10 certified copies of the death certificate. Most funeral homes can help you obtain them, but you can always request more from the county government records office where the death was recorded. 

Have basic information on hand. It’ll be helpful to have basic information about your loved one on hand as you’ll likely be asked again and again.

Obtain copies of the executor’s appointment. An executor appointment is the legal process of designating an individual to execute the instructions in a person’s will. The appropriate probate court appoints the executor Letters of Testamentary, bestowing the authority to act on behalf of the estate. 

Gather information about bitcoin and digital asset accounts. Secure seed phrases, hardware wallets, and other information that may hold important information. These may be among your loved one's personal belongings or with an attorney.

Step 4:

Reach out to Unchained

When you feel ready, reach out to inheritance@unchained.com. Depending on the type of account, type of estate, and state of legal residence, our team will work with authorized representatives of the estate to determine the applicable transfer process. 

The Unchained Inheritance Protocol can help guide you through properly planning for handling your bitcoin at your death. Additional concierge and Premium Support services can help ensure trustees and beneficiaries have all the skills and knowledge needed to manage your estate's assets.

Reach out to inheritance@­unchained.com

What to do after losing a loved one

We’ve put together a thorough guide that covers everything you need to do to ensure your loved one's bitcoin gets where it needs to go.

Download the guide

Frequently-asked questions

What happens to my personal account after I’m gone?
Personal accounts maintained at Unchained are passed to the executor of the accountholder's estate. Unchained must confirm the role of all persons involved in handling your accounts and may only assist parties who have the authority to handle the estate.
How are inherited assets distributed?
For personal accounts, the executor (referred to as a personal representative in some states) may direct the distribution of bitcoin out of the account to another Unchained vault or an external bitcoin address. Executors may also elect to receive their distribution in U.S. dollars, in which case Unchained will convert the assets and send the resulting dollars to an authorized bank account.
What happens to my IRA account after I’m gone?
Retirement accounts maintained at Unchained do not pass through probate. They would instead pass pursuant to the death beneficiary designation on the retirement account itself. That process is handled through the IRA custodian; however, Unchained can continue to be your point of contact for most matters.
How are inherited IRA assets distributed?
IRA beneficiaries who desire to roll their share of any IRA into an inherited IRA or take a distribution in bitcoin must first create an inherited IRA account at Unchained. We can assist with each beneficiary’s account onboarding and will extend any of our technical services at a discounted rate.

Alternatively, IRA beneficiaries may elect to receive their share in U.S. dollars. For any IRA beneficiaries who choose this option, Unchained will convert their share of bitcoin to dollars and pass the resulting dollars to the IRA Custodian. The custodian will then distribute the dollars to the beneficiary.
Can I provide a Power of Attorney (PoA) to show I’m the executor of the estate?
No. A Power of Attorney designating someone to act on behalf of an account owner is only valid during that account owner’s lifetime. The power to act ends with the account owner's death.
Why do I need to provide documentation?
A death certificate gives Unchained the information needed to verify the customer’s passing, as well as the identity and legal residence of your loved one. Additional documentation may be needed to show a person has the authority to receive account information or make decisions regarding your loved one’s bitcoin.
Where can I obtain the required documentation?
A certified copy of the death certificate is generally available from the funeral director who handled the decedent’s funeral arrangements or from the vital statistics office in the city, county, or state of death. Proof of appointment as executor or personal representative is typically obtained from the probate office in the decedent’s county of residence, or alternatively from a court in some jurisdictions. This proof is often called a Letter Testamentary or a Short Certificate.
How long does this distribution process take?
The process for executors can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the type of the account, the complexity of the estate, and the availability of the necessary documents.