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Tales from the Crypt 3: Complaints Filed with the BBB, Senator, and the CFPB to Get Coinbase Inheritance

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A few months ago, an anonymous Reddit user took to the Coinbase subreddit, desperately seeking aid in unlocking her late son’s Coinbase account to retrieve her granddaughter’s inheritance. She had been trying to get the assets transferred to the estate’s account for months, and ended up escalating it to the Better Business Bureau, her local Senator, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in order to get the transaction done. Let’s take a look at how that interaction went and how Bequest could have made it happen in one-click with no third-party involvement.
In June of 2023, an anonymous Reddit user (Anon)’s son suddenly passed away. She was swift to begin the estate administration and within a month of her son’s passing began contacting Coinbase to release the funds to the estate’s bank account. She soon found herself repeatedly contacting Coinbase alongside her husband, receiving looping empty assurances. Anon spent hours on the phone and a significant amount of time (including paid time with her attorney) preparing documents as per Coinbase’s decedent account policies. Unfortunately, this was not working.
In January of 2024, after eight months of trying, Anon finally took to Reddit to see if anyone had advice on how she may go about getting the funds released. She explained her situation, emphasizing that the estate was scheduled to close later that month. Coinbase’s official Reddit account replied to the thread, asking for the case number. Anon was not comfortable disclosing this to the world but asked if there was “some way to speak to a human at Coinbase who has the power to assist” as they had been told multiple times that the case had been escalated. Coinbase proceeded to provide a link to their phone helplines: the exact same helplines Anon had been calling for months.
Frustrated, Anon replied “This is the exact same rabbit hole we’ve been jumping down for months. Can you provide me with [the] name of someone to ask for who has been briefed on our case? Otherwise the nameless blame shifting will just continue.” Begrudgingly, Anon provided her case number. She received no further replies for two months.
In the meantime, fellow Reddit users recommended that Anon get back in contact with her attorney to draft letters to the Coinbase legal team, her bank commissioner, federal congressman, and state congressman. However, they did note a couple of roadblocks that Anon may run into:
1. If probate was still ongoing, they warned that Coinbase was “‘in the right’ legally for dragging feet.”
2. If Anon’s son’s address was not current on his Coinbase account at the time of his passing, this could also have created issues.
At this point Anon decided to begin the letter-writing process. She had to employ the help of her trust & estate attorney again, which she had not wanted to do as the high costs were “draining [her] granddaughter’s inheritance”, but she had no choice. She also mentioned that she would make a complaint with the CFPB.
Two months after the initial post, Anon edited her post to include the following update: “Update. After lodging a complaint with the BBB and writing letters to our senator and congressman the money has finally been transferred to the estate account. Thank you to those who assisted.” Only after 10 to 11 months of attempts and escalating things to the BBB, CFPB, senate, and congress, did Anon finally manage to retrieve her late son’s assets.
These situations are all too common when dealing with cryptocurrency custodians, as none of them have robust options for estate planning. In fact, Coinbase is the most estate planning-friendly option even though all they offer is an automated customer service number. If Anon’s son had not had a Power of Attorney document, a Will, and up-to-date information on Coinbase, this situation could have turned out differently. Apart from difficulties with the release of assets, Coinbase does not allow accounts to be held in Trust or allow for beneficiary designations.
However, Bequest offers all the benefits of estate planning on top of smooth transfer options so fiduciaries and beneficiaries will never end up with locked assets as was the case with Anon. Not only does Bequest offer beneficiary designations on any cryptocurrency account, it also allows any wallet to be held in trust. Bequest’s non-custodial distribution and administration was designed so fiduciaries do not have to login to a decedent’s Coinbase account and figure out how to transact with crypto: everything can be done in just a few clicks. It also protects the bearer assets and removes liability from the fiduciary. To learn more about our solutions, visit bequest.com.
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