E227 First Impression of Casa Beneficiary Account
Casa is really becoming a leader in Bitcoin estate planning and custody solutions. They recently launched their version of beneficiary designations for cryptocurrency, and I’m really hopeful about this. I think this is something that needs to be in place, because there is always the risk of catastrophic loss. So, let’s take a look.
How Casa Beneficiary works
You start by naming a beneficiary on your cryptocurrency, and he or she gets 2 keys in 3 of 5 multisig.
Casa uses 3 of 5 multisig as their custody solution for preventing the risk of catastrophic loss and preventing theft.
What is multisig? 3 of 5 means there are 5 keys to your cryptocurrency, and at any time, you need 3 of those 5 keys to take action (such as buying/selling).
In this scenario: you have 3 keys, your attorney or Casa has 1, and your beneficiary has 2.
No one has access while you’re alive. When you die, your beneficiary shows proof of death to Casa (or your attorney) and your beneficiary combines her 2 keys with that key. With 3 keys, the cryptocurrency can move to the beneficiary.
Think about it like you’re dealing with a bank or brokerage company. The beneficiary goes to the bank with a claim form and a death certificate. Similarly, the beneficiary goes to Casa with a claim form and death certificate to prove the person died.
(1) It avoids probate (for better or worse). “Better” meaning that the surrogate’s court won’t have to deal with cryptocurrency. “Worse” meaning that you’d be avoiding checks and balances (such as the ability for a child to contest if disinherited wrongly, or someone taking advantage of you by making himself your beneficiary). While probate is a pain, it is there for a reason: to make sure people get what they’re supposed to get.
(2) Casa’s multisig solution, in general, is an excellent reduction of risk of theft and catastrophic loss. I still think there needs to be a better version of it, but it does do what it’s supposed to do. They will probably work out all the kinks, and this is just one step in the evolutionary process.
(3) Casa will consult with and “handhold” the beneficiary (such as key custody, how to get access). Will your beneficiary even know what to do with the 2 keys from Casa?
(1) The beneficiary still must maintain 2 keys, and the beneficiary may not even know what they are. It’s unusual for a family to have two people who know how to deal with cryptocurrency. Casa tries to mitigate this by consulting with the beneficiary to make sure she knows what to do. I’m not sure how this will work, as my experience shows that handholding usually just isn’t enough in a sticky situation.
(2) It’s a bit expensive. To be eligible for this service, you must have a Casa Diamond account, which is $5,000 a year. The cost of an estate planning attorney is about $2,000 to $10,000 every four or five years. If you have a lot of cryptocurrency, it may be worth it since other benefits are included in the account.
(3) Beneficiary designations are not always ideal, as you may recall from a recent blog on illiquid estates.
It will be interesting to see how Casa’s multisig solution evolves. Owning cryptocurrency means you will need an estate plan. Every time I sit down to think about writing a bitcoin estate planning book, something new happens! However, if we get a lot of positive feedback, I will consider writing a short guide that includes high-level principals that don’t seem to change. Would you be interested? Let us know in the comments.
If you want to learn more about probate in general, please check out my book, “How Probate Works.” I don’t have a Bitcoin chapter yet, but you will get a sense of how the probate process applies to your Bitcoin situation.
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