What Is Inheritance Theft (and How Can You Protect Your Money)

If you have money, property, or other assets to pass down when you die—or if you’re a beneficiary expecting an inheritance from a relative—you want to make sure all gets distributed according to plan.

But it’s not unheard of for family conflict to complicate or completely derail the allocation of an inheritance—and this can even devolve into a type of theft known as “inheritance theft,” or “inheritance hijacking,” which could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. So what exactly does it involve, and how can you protect your money?

What is inheritance hijacking?

Inheritance theft may occur in a variety of ways:

  • Stealing, destroying, or forging trust or will documents.
  • Coercing or using undue influence (part of which involves “excessive persuasion”) to convince someone to change their will or trust.
  • Stealing, hiding, or diverting assets from an estate or for personal gain.
  • Abusing power of attorney authority.
  • Charging excessive fees for services related to executor or trustee duties.
  • Marrying under false pretenses for the purpose of benefiting from an inheritance.

While inheritance theft can be perpetrated by professionals aiding in estate planning or execution, it’s more likely to occur within a family or among close caretakers. Emotional manipulation is one common tactic, and usually involves a family member who is after someone’s assets trying to get closer to that person, often by doing them favors. Similarly, family members may bad mouth each other to convince the person to reallocate their inheritance.

Note that stealing assets from an older adult or forging documents related to finances is considered a form of elder abuse.

How to protect your assets from hijacking

First and foremost, start your estate planning process early, and with the help of a lawyer who specializes in this area. An experienced attorney can help you draft a sound estate planning agreement. Keep multiple sets of extensive records of anything related to your estate, and discuss your wishes clearly with those involved.

You may also consider distributing assets early so they are dispersed the way you want, says Jason Porter, a UK-based senior investment manager with Scottish Heritage SG. This could prevent coercion or diversion, though you’ll want to work with a tax prep expert to understand the impact of large gifts.

Again, because emotional manipulation among relatives is a more likely scenario than any sort of professional theft or fraud, employing legal and financial professionals who specialize in estate planning can be your best protection. You may also consider having multiple executors who are accountable for distributing your assets according to your estate plan.

How to protect your inheritance

Let’s say you’re an heir, and we’ll assume you have the best intentions to honor a relative’s wishes and be above board legally. You can watch for family members acting weird or cozying up to a relative they’ve had a lot of conflict with. Financial abuse and exploitation—mismanagement or misuse of money—can be difficult to spot, but warning signs may also include sudden changes in banking, large or unexplained withdrawals or asset transfers, and unpaid bills.

The laws governing inheritance theft and the penalties for violations vary by state, but if you suspect this is occurring, an estate planning attorney or forensic accountant can help you pursue these concerns. You can also report elder abuse to your state agency.

By: Emily Long

Source: How to Stop Someone From Stealing Your Inheritance

Critics:

The reason we create estate plans and wills is that we want to feel assured that our assets will pass on to the intended recipients. Unfortunately, our best-laid plans can go awry when Inheritance Hijacking occurs. One of the most frustrating things about inheritance theft is that it is often committed by relatives. This not only means that their actions can ruin family relations, but also that they are likely to get away with it if no proper measures are in place.

You can increase the odds that your assets reach the intended parties after you die if you take certain steps now. For example, it can be useful to discuss your estate plan with all your intended heirs present at the same time. This way, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page, making it much more difficult for the various forms of will hijacking to occur.

Ensuring that you have an attorney involved who will also be able to assist the family can help keep conversations consistent, and diminish the ability for anyone to fabricate what was said or what was intended. 

You may also want to appoint two executors to your estate. This can reduce the chances that anyone will abuse their position. It can be especially helpful to nominate a non-family professional as one of the two executors.

It is also worth considering giving assets to your heirs before you die. Not only will this keep family members from fighting over them after you are gone, but you will also get to witness your heirs enjoying your gifts while you are still around.

It can be quite difficult to prove your case if you don’t know when the theft happened or aren’t sure who is to blame. You will need to do some detective work to get the evidence you require to prove your claim in court.

If you suspect something has been stolen but aren’t sure what it is, you’ll need to conduct your own inventory of the decedent’s estate. You may notice large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in beneficiaries with life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or of other assets. If someone else is named as the beneficiary instead of the family member or if a title was transferred to another person, you will likely need to prove that the decedent was coerced into making those changes or manipulated by someone stealing your rightful inheritance.

If the theft was of money from a business or other fraudulent activity, you may need a forensic accountant to go through the records. Of course, you won’t need to take care of all this yourself. Your probate attorney will hire someone with experience in this area.

For physical items, you may have difficulty proving the person has possession of it. If the theft is of real property or large items, such as their classic cars, the title or deed would have to be changed. You would need to prove that the decedent was manipulated or threatened into giving them the property.

For smaller missing items, you may have difficulty proving they exist. If they have significant value, these items may have been insured, such as with expensive jewelry or artwork. Many times, the thief will sell these assets quickly to get the money and remove the item from their possession.

An estate plan that is prepared in collaboration with an experienced Santa Cruz will and trust attorney is much less susceptible to inheritance hijacking than one that you prepare yourself. A seasoned lawyer can help you arrange your estate plan in a way that protects your interests and those of your heirs, leaving far less room for confusion and making it much less likely that your will could be successfully contested.

If you would like professional assistance with this process, we invite you to contact our Santa Cruz office or one of our offices located throughout the state of California by calling (800) 244-8814.

Related contents:

what-is-inheritance-hijacking

Inheritance Hijacking Defined

Inheritance Hijackers: Who Wants to Steal Your Inheritance and How to Protect It

Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What To Do About It

Inheritance Theft: Coping With Family Betrayal

Protecting Yourself From Inheritance Theft

How to Stop Inheritance Theft and Protect Your Rights

How to Recover Stolen Inheritance – Probate Advance

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Crypto Winter Watch: All The Big Layoffs, Record Withdrawals And Bankruptcies Sparked By The $2 Trillion Crash

Fears of global recession and the worst inflation in more than 40 years have wreaked havoc on the nascent cryptocurrency market this year—unleashing a fierce crypto winter that’s forced once high-flying firms into bankruptcy and pushed investors into panic-selling mode. The turmoil has already claimed trillions of dollars in market value, billions of dollars in frozen funds and thousands of jobs, but current casualties may only mark the beginning of the storm.

“There will be others that come forward with trouble—I don’t think it ends here,” Marcus Sotiriou, an analyst at London digital asset brokerage GlobalBlock, tells Forbes, noting that close to a dozen firms—including Peter Thiel-backed Vauld—face an uncertain fate after locking customers out of their funds or initiating restructuring proceedings over the past month. “It’s going to be a sustained period of pain,” he says.

It’s anyone’s guess whether the current crypto bear market will ultimately rival the years-long crypto winters of 2014 and 2018—the latter wiping 80% from bitcoin’s price while crushing hundreds of then buzzy new tokens. Sotiriou posits this downturn could last up to 12 months unless persistent inflation soon cools down, allowing the Federal Reserve to ease up on aggressive interest rate hikes that make risky assets less attractive to investors. Analysts aren’t so sure that will happen.

“This is necessary for any financial market to mature and evolve,” argues Matteo Dante Perruccio, a partner at crypto investment firm Wave Financial who envisions that cryptocurrency prices will take at least six months—and up to two years—before recovering, similar to cycles past. “But this time, there’s a difference,” he adds, pointing to a wave of institutional money—from the likes of Tesla, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and more—that fueled widespread adoption during the pandemic:

“When we inevitably come back into an appreciating market, it’s going to be more sustained and healthier, with less speculation and more tried and true investment philosophy.”As crypto investors wait for brighter days ahead, Forbes is tracking all the carnage from the latest crypto winter, including layoffs, price plunges and record selling—as well as the lifelines and acquisitions that may help cushion the blow. Here’s the damage, so far:

Trillions In Value Erased

Low interest rates and government stimulus measures fueled skyrocketing cryptocurrency prices during the pandemic, but the Federal Reserve’s decision to curb rising inflation by hiking interest rates has since battered investor sentiment—ushering in some of the crypto market’s biggest losses in history. After amassing a record value above $3 trillion in November 2021, the cryptocurrency market posted its worst first half ever and has plummeted to about $950 billion, a nearly 60% drop this year, according to CoinGecko.

Piling on to bearish sentiment, Terra’s luna token, a once top cryptocurrency worth more than $40 billion, lost virtually all its value within a week in May after sister token TerraUSD, a stablecoin meant to hold a price of $1, broke its dollar peg as markets collapsed. Meanwhile, top cryptocurrencies bitcoin, ether and BNB have plunged 70%, 75% and 65% from record highs, respectively. It’s taken the market years to recover from similar declines: When growing regulation sparked a fierce crypto winter beginning in 2017, it took more than 1,000 days for the world’s largest cryptocurrency to nab a new high.

Thousands Laid Off

Faced with steep market declines, cryptocurrency companies have laid off more than 2,000 workers in less than five weeks. By far the biggest blow, popular brokerage Coinbase laid off 1,180 employees, or about 18% of its workforce, on June 14—weeks after the firm’s billionaire CEO, Brian Armstrong, warned investors that a potential recession could lead to a prolonged bear market for cryptocurrencies. In a note announcing the layoffs, Armstrong said he was planning “for the worst” and acknowledged the firm “grew too quickly” during the pandemic bull market.

“It was surprising, and it was hard,” one former employee posted on LinkedIn. Others described the cuts as “abrupt” and “sudden.” Also in June, Gemini, the exchange founded by the billionaire Winklevii twins, said it would cut about 10% of its 1,000 employees, and exchanges Crypto.com and BlockFi said they would terminate 5% and 20% of their workforces, affecting some 260 and 170 employees, respectively. Since then, lending platform Celsius reportedly laid off 150 workers, and Austrian trading platform Bitpanda cut 270 jobs, calling the move “necessary . . . to navigate the storm and get out of it financially healthy.”

Record Selling

Investors piled out of cryptocurrency investment funds at a record pace as bitcoin plunged to an 18-month low last month. Outflows totaled $423 million in the week of June 17, virtually erasing all inflows this year and eclipsing the prior record of $198 million from January, according to crypto asset management firm CoinShares. The turbulence pushed the assets under management of crypto investment products to a record-low $21.6 billion last month, down 37% from May, as “looming liquidation threats” fueled “panic” among investors after Luna’s crash, CryptoCompare analysts wrote in a report.

Meanwhile, Bank of America reports the number of its customers using cryptocurrency tumbled more than 50% to fewer than 500,000 since the market’s highs in November. Even bullish crypto firms have had to reckon with the changing market. On Tuesday, top miner Core Scientific revealed it sold a majority of its bitcoin pile at an average cost of $23,000 last month, raising more than $167 million. In a statement, CEO Mike Levitt attributed the sales to “tremendous stress” driven by weak markets, higher interest rates and “historic inflation.”

Canada-based Bitfarms, which made headlines in January by joining Tesla and former billionaire Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy in buying bitcoin for its balance sheet, also offloaded a large sum, dumping 3,000 bitcoins, or nearly half its pile, for $62 milion late last month. “It’s typical behavior for bitcoin miners to sell during the final stages of a bear market,” explains Sotiriou, noting some firms may need to shore up funds to cover expenses or stay solvent as high inflation tacks on to operating costs.

Billions In Frozen Cash

Citing “extreme market conditions,” crypto lender Celsius became the first major platform to pause withdrawals and transfers between customer accounts on June 13. Within days, others followed suit: Babel Finance, CoinFLEX and Voyager all froze withdrawals. None have re-enabled access, thus making billions of dollars in funds inaccessible to their investors.

“They’re in a really sticky situation because they’ve been irresponsible with clients’ funds, somehow lost out and are now unable to pay back their clients—and there’s no guarantee they’ll pay the money back,” explains Sotiriou. In its most recent quarterly filing, publicly traded Coinbase warned of the risk, disclosing customers would be treated as “unsecured creditors,” or lenders without collateral to fall back on, in the event the company goes bankrupt.

Bankruptcies And Liquidations

A handful of crypto firms are simply collapsing. On June 27, Voyager issued a notice of default to beleaguered Singapore-based crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) for failing to make payments on $675 million in bitcoin and stablecoin loans. 3AC at one point managed some $3 billion, but Singapore financial regulators condemned the firm late last month, saying it provided false information and only had the authority to manage up to $250 million.

On top of that, 3AC’s troubles were exacerbated by the sell-off’s impact on its risky investments, which reportedly included overleveraged bets on the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and about $200 million in now-worthless Luna. On Friday, a British Virgin Islands court reportedly ordered 3AC to liquidate its assets, deeming the firm insolvent; it filed for bankruptcy the same day.

With 3AC’s fate sealed, Voyager itself filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday—a mere five days after it suspended trading. “While I strongly believe in this future, the prolonged volatility and contagion in the crypto markets require us to take deliberate and decisive action now,” Voyager CEO Stephen Ehrlich said in a statement. In a court filing, the firm disclosed that it had more than 100,000 creditors and up to $10 billion in assets. Vauld and Celsius have also announced they’re exploring restructuring options.

Lifelines And War Chests

Some crypto companies are hoping to be rescued before being forced to shut their doors by turning to more stable counterparts. On Friday, FTX, the exchange founded by billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, entered into an agreement to buy embattled BlockFi for as much as $240 million. “You know, we’re willing to do a somewhat bad deal here, if that’s what it takes to sort of stabilize things and protect customers,” he told Forbes last month after providing BlockFi and Voyager with $750 million in credit lines between FTX and his quantitative trading firm Alameda.

More recently, he has said FTX has a “few billion” more to help struggling companies. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is reportedly looking to raise $2 billion to help buy up distressed assets from Celsius, and other legacy institutions are also showing interest. “I have this knee-jerk reaction that if you believe that the fundamentals of a long-term case are really strong, when everybody else is dipping, that’s the time to double down,”

Fidelity CEO Abby Johnson, who this year shepherded the firm’s industry-first decision to allow bitcoin in 401(k) plans, said last month when asked about what could be her third crypto winter. “That’s usually the right move.” “It’s incredibly encouraging,” says Dante Perrucio. “Big institutions looking for distressed crypto assets means they believe that the industry is going to come back—and come back strong—despite this very complicated period we’re all in.”

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism …

Source: Crypto Winter Watch: All The Big Layoffs, Record Withdrawals And Bankruptcies Sparked By The $2 Trillion Crash

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Founders of $10 Billion Crypto Hedge Fund Have ‘Ghosted’ After Bets Go Bad

The co-founders of an influential multi-billion-dollar crypto hedge fund have suddenly gone MIA right at the moment that people want their money. Days of swirling rumors have been followed by harder evidence that Three Arrows Capital, or 3AC, is ghosting its business partners as it attempts to avoid insolvency after the firm overleveraged itself ahead of the recent “crypto winter,” which has plagued the industry and led to a steep decline in crypto prices.

Now, firms are scrambling to distance themselves from 3AC to assure customers that their funds won’t go down with the ship run by Zhu Su and Kyle Davies, two childhood friends who suddenly found themselves wielding billions in the Wild West of emerging crypto markets. “Losing a bet is one thing, but at least be honorable and not drag others into your bets who have nothing to do with it. Certainly don’t ghost on everyone since potentially, they could’ve helped you,” the head of trading at a firm that does business with 3AC said on Twitter.

The largely self-funded hedge fund has become a prominent investor in almost all arenas of the cryptocurrency industry, as well as a prolific borrower, making its inability to meet margin calls over the last week—money a firm has to pony up to cover losses—a subject of concern throughout the sector.

Rumors of issues at 3AC started to percolate over the last week, as crypto prices plunged and evidence emerged that the firm was frantically unloading tokens. “They’re not responding to anyone,” an unnamed source at a crypto trading firm told The Financial Times. As the frustration grew louder, 3AC’s normally prolific co-founders went silent, until Su sent out a cryptic and ominous tweet on Tuesday. “We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out,” he wrote, without any additional context. He has not tweeted since, nor has Davies.

The head of trading at the Hong Kong-based firm 8 Blocks Capital, Danny Yuan, released a statement on Wednesday saying that 3AC had stopped responding after 8 Blocks requested a large withdrawal on Monday, June 13. After 3AC didn’t respond, a member of Yuan’s firm noticed that “~1m was missing from our accounts with them.” Additional attempts at contact went nowhere, and 8 Blocks Capital went elsewhere for information.

“What we learned is that they were leveraged long everywhere and were getting margin-called. Instead of answering the margin calls, they ghosted everyone. The platforms had no choice but to liquidate their positions, causing the markets to further dump,” Yuan said. In other words, 3AC had bet on crypto prices going up with borrowed funds (or “leverage” to use financial speak) meaning that any gains are higher but losses hurt much more. Yuan then called on platforms holding funds associated with 3AC to freeze them.

Zhu and Davies made their first public comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday morning, where they said that they were exploring asset sales and “rescue by another firm,” the outlet reported, and hoped to secure an arrangement with their creditors to give the firm some runway.

The apparent crisis afflicting 3AC is already sending ripples through the industry. On Thursday, the yield generation platform Finblox said that the company would pause reward distributions and limit withdrawals for all customers as it evaluated the effect of 3AC’s financial stress on its platform. 3AC is an investor in Finblox, the company said. 

The crypto lender BlockFi would not confirm if BlockFi had liquidated 3AC’s position, saying in a statement to Motherboard that it is against company policy to “comment on specific counterparties.” But BlockFi added that it “exercised our best business judgment recently with a large client that failed to meet its obligations on an overcollateralized margin loan.” (Unnamed sources told The Financial Times that BlockFi had indeed liquidated 3AC’s position.)

The stench of 3AC is so strong that even those who are not attached to the company have felt it necessary to distance themselves. Tether, the stablecoin currency, for one, issued a statement calling rumors that it had lending exposure to 3AC “categorically false.”  

The question is whether 3AC is a canary in the coal mine for crypto hedge funds, or just an overzealous fund that took too many risks. Mike Novogratz, the founder of Galaxy Digital Holdings, for one, has said he expects two-thirds of crypto hedge funds to soon fail.

Since its founding in 2012, 3AC has become one of the largest crypto hedge funds in the world, and its demise could cause trouble throughout the sector. Zhu and Davies, friends since high school who attended Columbia and joined Credit Suisse as derivatives traders together, started the fund while they lived in an apartment together, and have since become rumored to be “among the world’s biggest crypto holders,” according to Bloomberg.

3AC mostly (and maybe only) managed the co-founders’ own money, which Zhu claimed allowed 3AC “the ability to make very good decisions on market timing.” It also allowed for unusually large, risky bets, and for a while, the firm achieved astonishing results. The analytics firm Nansen estimated 3AC held $10 billion in blockchain assets as of March, and the company has investments all over the crypto ecosystem. As of December, that included a stake in the world’s biggest Bitcoin fund, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, that reportedly exceeded 5 percent.

 To increase the size of its bets, 3AC borrowed money from a number of firms, dramatically increasing its potential windfall. But when the crypto market started to crash, 3AC got hit hard. The hedge fund had invested in places like the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity and the Solana blockchain, whose token values have crashed in recent months. It also invested in Celsius, a crypto bank that has suspended withdrawals indefinitely amid rumors of insolvency. 3AC’s worst bet may have been Luna, a cryptocurrency that plummeted to near-zero in a dramatic implosion.

Now, 3AC appears to be scrambling to find money wherever it can, such as by selling massive amounts of tokens. One NFT fund the company had backed even moved all of its 70 pieces of digital art on SuperRare, which it had spent more than $20 million collecting, to a single address, indicating asset consolidation.

Ahead of the crash, Zhu and Davies professed an almost religious devotion to the potential of cryptocurrency. The libertarian Su had repeatedly pushed his “supercycle” thesis publicly, claiming crypto prices would continuously rise as it gained prominence relative to government currencies. “I also think we are entering an era where the potential of Bitcoin to become one of the key reserve currencies of people and nations is becoming clearer than ever,” Zhu told Bloombeg in April. “It will not be a smooth ride, but it will be a highly meaningful one for those who take the journey.”

On May 27, Zhu admitted that his grand supercycle theory was “regrettably wrong,” adding that “crypto will still thrive and change the world every day,” comments that Davies echoed in the Wall Street Journal. “We have always been believers in crypto and we still are,” he said.

By Maxwell Strachan

Source: Founders of $10 Billion Crypto Hedge Fund Have ‘Ghosted’ After Bets Go Bad

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What You Should Know Before Investing In Fidelity’s Bitcoin Retirement Accounts

This morning crypto advocates and the crypto curious alike woke up to the news that asset management giant Fidelity will start allowing investors to put bitcoin into their 401(k) retirement savings accounts. On its surface this looks like an easy way for individuals to get access to this emerging asset class in an advantageous way from a tax perspective. However, there are still some important considerations to take into account.

Here is what you need to know.

The service will be available later this year to participants in employee-sponsored retirement plans offered by Fidelity—but only if an employer opts to offer it. Annual gains in a 401(k) are tax deferred, which eliminates the hassles associated with crypto investing and annual tax reporting. Withdrawals from a 401(k) in retirement are either taxed as ordinary income (if you contributed to a traditional pre-tax account) or tax-free (if you put after tax dollars into a Roth account).

According to The Wall Street Journal fees on these investments will range between 0.75%-0.90%, plus trading fees which falls within the mid-range of spot market trading fees offered by most major exchanges in the U.S. such as Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken, FTX.US, and Binance.US. Additionally, for now, employees will only be able to allocate a maximum of 20% of their currently account balances and new contributions to bitcoin.

The service is going to be slowly rolled out over the course of 2022. Currently the only firm to have publicly signed on is business analytics firm MicroStrategy. Led by billionaire bitcoin bull Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy is the world’s largest corporate holder of bitcoin with a treasury topping $5 billion worth of the asset. And again, your employer will have to agree to offer the service. Some may balk at the asset’s volatility.

Back in 2013 you could purchase a single bitcoin for under $300. As of this writing, a whole bitcoin will run you approximately $40,000. This is gargantuan growth, but it has not been smooth.

There have been multiple occasions where bitcoin and other leading crypto assets have lost well north of 50% of their value (many of which happened before the industry broke into the mainstream consciousness). However, many investors likely remember bitcoin approaching $20,000 in late 2017 before losing 75% of its value in the subsequent months.

We saw another such drop during the late fall when bitcoin fell from $69,000 to the low $30,000s. Bitcoiners will tell you that the asset more than recovers each time that it gets knocked down. In fact, many consider riding these boom and bust cycles as a rite of passage. But it might not be for everyone.

While there may have been cheering throughout #cryptotwitter that Fidelity is letting clients dip their toes in bitcoin, the government may not be as happy. For starters, federal regulators have been very reticent at letting investors get easy exposure to the crypto spot markets, even bitcoin.

Famously, the Securities and Exchange Commission is yet to approve a bitcoin spot ETF (it has approved a handful of products that offer exposure to bitcoin futures contracts), often citing the market’s vulnerability to fraud and manipulation.

When it comes to retirement planning, volatility again comes into play. Bitcoin is down nearly 40% from its all-time high of just under $70,000 last November, and retirees and those soon to retire may not have the funds or time to ride out these boom and bust cycles. In fact, last month the Department of Labor issued a notice expressing several concerns with investing retirement funds in crypto.

Chief among them were the market’s extreme volatility, its emerging (cloudy) regulatory status, the inability of investors to make informed decisions, as well as more basic concerns about the security of holding crypto assets, which have become juicy targets for hackers. Labor’s concerns matter because it has a say in the regulation of employer sponsored plans.

In addition, when news came out last July that Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S., had partnered with a retirement firm to offer such services, David John, a senior policy advisor at AARP Policy Institute and the deputy director of the retirement security project at the Brookings Institution, told Forbes: “Crypto itself is fascinating, and intriguing as it starts to develop, but it’s still in its early phases.

And it is definitely not appropriate for retirement investing.” Added John: “The fact is that for retirement investing, you want growth, and you want a limited amount of volatility. The older you get, the less you want your portfolio to gyrate up and down, because it makes it very hard to plan your retirement income.”

While Fidelity is a world unto itself when it comes to asset management and retirement savings, there are other ways to get your retirement savings access to crypto. Firms such as Kingdom Trust, iTrust Capital and BitcoinIRA let investors purchase digital assets via exchanges and hold them in individual retirement accounts.

Additionally, Coinbase partnered with ForUsAll in June to let participants in employer sponsored plans purchase dozens of different crypto assets and hold them in tax deferred programs.

Finally, if you want exposure to the industry but don’t want to directly hold digital assets, there are plenty of stocks and ETFs that track companies operating in the crypto industry that are highly correlated to the underlying assets.

Saving for retirement is a personal decision, and your strategy – from what to hold to allocation percentages must —depend on your specific circumstances. Please seek out a Registered Investment Advisor or other professional advice before making any big decisions.

I am director of research for digital assets at Forbes. I was recently the Social Media/Copy Lead at Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange based in the United States.

Source: What You Should Know Before Investing In Fidelity’s Bitcoin Retirement Accounts

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What To Do With Your 401(k) If You Get Laid Off

If you’ve been laid off, furloughed or let go from a job, your entire lifestyle can change overnight. Unemployment rates hovered around 6% during the early months of 2021. There were around 10 million unemployed individuals in April 2021.

When facing unemployment, it can be natural to look at money set aside for retirement. If you had a 401(k) with your former employer, you’ll need to decide what to do with the funds in the account. There are several options to consider, but each one comes with potential benefits and costs.

Here’s what you can do with a 401(k) if you are laid off:

  • Leave the money in your 401(k) if you have more than $5,000.
  • Move the funds into an individual retirement account or 401(k) plan at a new job.
  • Withdraw the funds and face potential penalties.

Read on to learn about your 401(k) options after losing your job, along with criteria to think through before making any moves.

Look at Your 401(k) Balance

The amount in your 401(k) can impact the options available. “If your account balance is below $5,000, your employer has the option of removing you from the 401(k) plan by distributing the funds,” says David McCormick-Goodhart, a financial advisor at Savant Wealth Management in McLean, Virginia. For balances above $5,000, the employer will need to leave the funds in the 401(k) unless you ask for the amount to be removed.

If you’re not sure how much you have accumulated, check the balance of your account. For balances that are under the $5,000 threshold, you can ask your employer if the company plans to distribute the funds, or if another policy is in place.

Consider Leaving the Money in Your 401(k) Account

If your account balance is above $5,000, you may decide to keep the 401(k) plan with your former employer. You won’t be able to keep contributing to the plan, but the invested money could grow over time.

Leaving the 401(k) funds at the company where you used to work could lead to some drawbacks. “You are limited to the investment options that are available in the 401(k) plan,” McCormick-Goodhart says.

You could also face the uncomfortable situation of having to communicate with a former employer to ask for an address or beneficiary change. “You may need to go through the employer’s human resources department to obtain the necessary paperwork, which can be both inconvenient and awkward after a job loss,” McCormick-Goodhart says.

Move the Funds to an IRA or Another 401(k) Plan

If you have another job in place, you can ask your new employer if a 401(k) plan is available. “It is typically permissible to move your old 401(k) into a new employer’s 401(k) when you get another job,” says Jason Field, a financial advisor at Van Leeuwen & Company in Princeton, New Jersey.

You could also choose to roll over the 401(k) into an IRA. “There is no tax due for making this rollover, if no money is directly withdrawn to the employee,” Field says. “Creating an IRA will give you a very wide range of investment options, but would require someone to manage them.”

If you file for bankruptcy, the implications for funds in a 401(k) will not be the same as the consequences for an IRA. “Your 401(k) cannot be included in a bankruptcy proceeding,” says Landon Loveall, a certified financial planner at KB Financial Advisors in San Francisco. Creditors will not be able to access the account. “An IRA, on the other hand, doesn’t have those protections,” Loveall says.

Withdraw From the 401(k) Account

If you need funds to help cover costs like a mortgage payment and groceries, you might be considering taking money from a 401(k) account. “While it may be tempting to cash out your 401(k) after leaving your job, proceed with caution before doing so,” McCormick-Goodhart says. “These accounts are meant to be a vehicle for long-term retirement savings, so cashing out after a job loss can jeopardize your financial plan in the long run.”

Using 401(k) funds now to pay for immediate expenses could mean that later, when facing retirement, you don’t have that same amount available. The funds in the account also won’t be given a chance to grow during the next decades to build up a nest egg for retirement.

Taking money from a 401(k) typically leads to penalties and taxes. If you are not yet 55 years old, you will usually face a 10% penalty on the amount taken out of a 401(k) after leaving your job. The withdrawal would also be considered taxable income for that year.

The CARES Act and a later stimulus bill provided temporary adjustments to 401(k) withdrawals. If you met certain criteria, you may have been able to withdraw up to $100,000 without facing penalty. You can then spread out the tax impact of the withdrawal over the next three years. If you pay back the money within three years, you can avoid having the distribution marked as taxable income. It is not required that companies follow these provisions, so you’ll need to check with your employer to learn how a withdrawal during the pandemic could impact your finances and taxable income.

What Happens to My 401(k) if I Get Fired?

The same options apply to your 401(k) regardless of being laid off or fired. “One thing to keep in mind is the vested value of any employer match that has been made by the company,” Field says. “Most plans require an employee to work for a certain amount of years before the company match is considered the employee’s money.”

As you search for a new job, it may be suitable to temporarily leave the funds in the 401(k). Once you get a new job, “you will most likely have the option of rolling that 401(k) over to the new employer’s 401(k),” says Michael Morgan, president of TBS Retirement Planning in Hurst, Texas. “Your other option would be to roll your 401(k) into an IRA of your choice.”

By Rachel Hartman

Rachel Hartman, a personal finance writer, has covered topics related to budgeting, saving and investing for more than a decade. Hartman is a weekly contributor to U.S. News, where she shares insight on retirement planning and living. Her work has appeared in national and international publications including AARP and Yahoo! Finance.

Source: What to Do With Your 401(k) if You Get Laid Off | 401ks | US News

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