Announcing Casa Covenant: Bitcoin inheritance service and protocol
[February 2022 update: Casa Covenant is now known as Bitcoin Inheritance Plan. Learn more about how to protect your bitcoin here.]
“What happens to my bitcoin when I die?”
Right now, the answer is one of the following:
- Nothing happens, and your bitcoin is inaccessible forever.
- You’ve shared detailed recovery instructions with a family member or friend. Your bitcoin is recoverable, but unfortunately you and your family member may also be at risk of theft or attack.
- You are using a custodian and not managing your own private keys, which has its own significant risks. And many custodians do not have an inheritance process.
Inheritance is one of the biggest unsolved problems in Bitcoin.
With Casa Covenant, we’ve built a bitcoin inheritance service and protocol that allows you to securely pass on your bitcoin to whomever you designate, while minimizing the risk that someone can steal these funds in advance of your death.
The challenge of bitcoin inheritance
Since banks hold your money for you, they can pass it on to your heirs after you die. If you are holding bitcoin and managing your own keys however, there is a catch-22:
For your heirs to be able to access your bitcoin, you have to give them instructions on how to access it before you die. However, if you do, there is a risk that they or someone else who stumbled upon these instructions could use this information to steal your money before you pass away.
Because of this, most people don’t have a solution for bitcoin inheritance. It’s on their “I’ll think about this later and hope I don’t get hit by a bus in the meantime” checklist. This has to change.
So today, we’re announcing Casa Covenant, our solution to bitcoin inheritance.
We’ve been working for over 10 months to evaluate options and create a secure inheritance protocol—a set of steps that Keymaster users can work into their will and inheritance process in order to pass on their bitcoin with peace of mind.
And we're implementing this protocol with the first-of-its-kind, full-support inheritance service—so you can be confident that your loved ones will not only receive their bitcoin, but will also fully understand their security and custody options for continuing to protect your bitcoin for many generations.
Using multisig for safer inheritance
By combining multisig with a proper security protocol, it is possible to enable safe and controlled inheritance of your bitcoin.
As we evaluated ways to handle this problem, we realized that integrating multi-signature technology with the existing estate planning and legal system is the right first step. More independent inheritance process will come one day, but there are many pitfalls with going too far too fast.
For instance, it is easy to make the mistake of attempting to use a simplified social recovery scheme with Shamir's Secret Sharing, which is highly vulnerable to small mistakes that can ruin the entire inheritance process, and can be easily compromised during first creation and during routine testing.
The best path is for an estate attorney to protect a single client key in your multisig setup in the form of a hardware wallet, along with all the other documents needed for proper inheritance. Because this is their profession, the attorney is much less likely to lose a key than your cousin or friend. The estate lawyer's entire career depends on properly executing end-of-life inheritance transfers, making them more reliable.
Casa will be there to help throughout the process—from initial setup and technical consultations to the actual execution of transfers. We’ll educate your estate lawyer on key management, provide lawyer-specific tools for managing keys, and assist your heirs in using Keymaster to properly recover funds. And we'll educate inheritors on their options for security and custody.
Casa Covenant and Keymaster multisig can give you peace of mind when securing your bitcoin for future generations, while still allowing you to maintain safe control over your bitcoin today.
How does Casa Covenant inheritance work?
Our inheritance process adds an optional 6th key to our clients’ 3-of-5 Key Shield, making it a 3-of-6 setup. This key is activated after clients start the inheritance planning process with Casa, and it’s held by a client’s estate lawyer.
In a scenario where the client passes away, the following keys can be used for fund recovery:
- Estate lawyer key
- Casa Recovery Key
- Safety Deposit Box Key (“Safe Key”)
For the inheritance protocol to work properly, it’s important that the Safe Key is kept in a deposit box under the client’s name. This allows his/her estate executor to access it with a court order after providing proof of death.
This means that at least three keys are accessible by a third party after following the proper legal steps. While we don’t like trusted third parties in bitcoin, we must trust third parties (even our family members are third parties) if we aren’t around to execute our requests.
The best we can do is to combine a carefully thought out security model with meticulously defined technical process (Casa Covenant is co-written by the creator of Glacier Protocol), and combine this with strong legal safeguards to make sure all requests are followed properly.
Are you interested in bitcoin inheritance?
Send an email now to email@example.com to join the waitlist for Casa Covenant inheritance service and see a free demo of Keymaster multisig.
We'll begin onboarding new clients to Casa Covenant inheritance in early 2020, working with their estate lawyers and family members to make sure bitcoin is carefully passed down to future generations.
Casa Covenant inheritance service is first available for Casa Diamond members. Over time, we plan to add inheritance solutions to other membership levels. But it’s important to handle this rollout carefully, so we’re starting with our Diamond clients who already have team signing features.
Are you an estate attorney?
If you're an estate attorney and are interested in learning how to help clients protect and pass on their bitcoin, we're happy to help. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and to be part of our attorney network.
Note that Casa does not provide financial, legal, or tax advice or services, and urges you to consult a qualified professional for such advice and services.