How to solve the cryptocurrency inheritance problem?

6 min readOct 26, 2023

In this article, we’ll try to explain just how difficult it is to safely pass on crypto-currencies and other digital assets to loved ones as part of an inheritance. Far from the morbid subject, we’re going to talk about the technical solutions that allow you to exchange your crypto assets reliably and securely.

How to solve the cryptocurrency inheritance problem?


  1. Context
  2. One seedphrase to rule them all
  3. The inheritance problem
  4. A solution: Seedkeeper


To better understand the challenges you’ll face when passing on your crypto assets to your children, let’s take a look at the technical aspects specific to this field.

The tangible representation of a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin can be explained by cryptography and key pairs. Public and private key pairs play a fundamental role, serving as the means to secure and control ownership of digital assets within blockchain-based systems.

Let’s break down how they work and why they are crucial for possessing cryptocurrencies:

  1. Understanding cryptography: cryptography is the basis of securing digital transactions and assets in the realm of cryptocurrencies. It involves complex mathematical algorithms that encrypt and decrypt data to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity.
  2. Public and private keys: in the context of cryptocurrencies, a public key is like a visible address that others can see and use to send you cryptocurrency. It’s derived from a mathematical operation applied to your private key. The private key, on the other hand, is kept secret and is used to sign transactions, proving ownership and enabling the spending of the associated cryptocurrency.
  3. The seedphrase: also known as a recovery phrase, mnemonic phrase, or backup phrase, is a set of words (usually 12 or 24) used to generate a deterministic wallet’s private key(s) in cryptocurrency systems. It serves as a convenient and standardized way for users to back up and restore access to their cryptocurrency wallets.
  4. Generating the key pair: when you create a cryptocurrency wallet, a unique key pair is generated. The private key is generated first, typically as a long, randomly generated string of characters derivated from your seedphrase. The public key is then derived from this private key using specific algorithms.
  5. Public key: your public key, or address, is the identifier that others use to send cryptocurrencies to you. It’s safe to share your public key, as it only allows others to send funds to your wallet but not withdraw from it.
  6. Private key: your private key is a secret known only to you. It is critical to keep this key secure and never share it with anyone. Access to the private key grants control over the associated cryptocurrency and is crucial for signing transactions.
  7. Ownership and transactions: when you want to initiate a transaction, your wallet uses your private key to sign it. The blockchain verifies this signature using your public key to confirm ownership and authorization to transfer funds. Essentially, your private key demonstrates ownership and authorizes the movement of cryptocurrency.
  8. Security and protection: losing or exposing your private key can lead to unauthorized access and loss of funds. It’s imperative to store your private key securely, often in encrypted digital wallets or even offline hardware wallets, to prevent unauthorized access.
Your pair of keys to access your crypto wallets.

One seedphrase to rule them all

In short, we can simply say that your crypto-currency wallet materializes as a public/private key pair, and your private key is the key to spending your assets.

But the private key is difficult to memorize. It always takes the form of a very long string of characters. Here is an example:


Fortunately, the ecosystem has been equipped with tools to simplify this form: the seedphrase. A seephrase is nothing more than a series of ordered words, taken from a specific dictionary and used to derive a private key.

For example, this seedphrase is the human representation of the private key shown above:

evil album public okay clog include oppose execute comic empower click liberty

From a seedphrase, we can always derive the same private keys, that’s the beauty of the cryptography. And that’s what makes managing our crypto wallets so much easier!

The importance of seedphrase.

The inheritance problem

Now that you know that you can transmit ownership of your crypto wallet by transmitting your seedphrase, let’s see how to do it optimally and securely.

You can’t trust your notary or your lawyer. And passing on your seedphrase to your children, while you’re still alive, would be a risk of upsetting the family order.

You’ll need to find an optimal, inexpensive and secure solution that mitigates those risks:

Plaintext transmission

Transmitting your seephrase in plain text is problematic. The slightest person with access to this written (or computer) document could, in a matter of seconds, retrieve your crypto wallet and empty it.

Encrypted transmission

Encrypting your seephrase before transmission is a solution to the plaintext problem. But it raises other concerns: is the encryption algorithm strong enough not to be broken? How can the decryption key be transmitted securely? Will my children be able to decrypt it?

Longlasting transmission

You need to find a robust solution that will stand the test of time. So goodbye to the piece of paper in your safe, bye bye to engraving on a metal plate that can oxidize, adios any other form of intellectual memorization.

The solution: Seedkeeper

Seedkeeper — Your seephrases and passwords secure storage solution.

You’re looking for a reliable, ultra-secure hardware solution that can be transmitted without the content being immediately available or readable in clear text. With sufficient security and a high level of resilience to last over time. Something you can share without having to trust a third party while preserving its accessible character so you can get it while you’re still alive.
Order your Seedkeeper now!

Introducing Seedkeeper. A smart card powered by a secure element: the chip. It has enough memory to store up to 12 seedphrases or any other password. Access to its memory is enforced by a personal PIN code (from 4 to 16 characters).

This equipment meets all our needs when it comes to optimally preserving our seedphrase, but also in case of inheritance:

  1. Setup a Seedkeeper card with your own personal PIN code;
  2. Store your seedphrases and passwords in tamper-proof memory;
  3. Optionally: make a backup on another Seedkeeper for better resilience;
  4. Put your Seedkeeper card(s) to your bank vault or any other safe place;
  5. Write the card’s PIN code on your will.

This configuration is almost perfect: nobody but you can access your safe as long as you’re alive, the lawyer who has access to your will can’t do anything with a simple written PIN code, and there’s no possible collusion between third parties.

Almost perfect because you still don’t have a Seedkeeper, do you? Buy one from the online store of Satochip, the leading Belgian provider of open source security solutions to help you on your cryptographic journey.

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Hardware devices powered by open source software to let you safely store and manage #Bitcoin and other digital assets, anytime, anywhere - Secure the Future.