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I know this is a long shot: Is there anything I can do to recoup the bitcoins my father owned when he died? Is my only chance trying to find his password?

What are the possible ways may father may have managed his bitcoins, and how can I find this out? How could I find out if he was using a third party to keep his bitcoins? I have no idea what I am looking for...

Does this happen often, or are the majority of people who own bitcoins young enough that this is rare?

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    I'm sorry for the loss of your father. Do you know which application or website your father used for storing his coins? I.e. Bitcoin Core or blockchain.info. Maybe I can help you futher then. – Kevin Aug 22 '16 at 18:03
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    Hi Jessi, my condolences. A similar question was asked here before: Recovering bitcoins after the owner's death. Perhaps you can find some helpful information there, too. – Murch Aug 22 '16 at 23:21
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What are the possible ways may father may have managed his bitcoin, and how can I find this out? How could I find out if he was using a third party to keep his bitcoin? I have no idea what I am looking for...

The first thing you have to come to terms with is that there is no guarantee of success. If your father did all of his Bitcoin transactions on a LiveUSB drive, then buried the USB drive inside of a tupperware in his backyard, there is no way that you would know, unless you found it.

That said, there are some general ways to focus your search.

  • Examine bank statements: Look for cash withdrawals/deposits. Look for transfers to Bitcoin companies or unexplained transactions. Combine this with other methods, like web history. If he withdrew money on the same day that he visited Coinbase, that suggests that Coinbase might have some of your father's assets.

  • Ask third parties like Bitcoin exchanges to give you any assets belonging to your father: Make sure to attach documentation showing that those Bitcoins are legally yours. An estate lawyer can help you with this.

  • Look for known wallet programs: Bitcoin Core, Electrum, and Bitcoin Armory are all programs that might be installed on your father's computer. Also look at this list, and this less popular list.

  • Examine downloaded programs, installed programs, and web history: Continue your search for wallet programs by looking in the Downloads folder for any installation programs. Look in the Start menu. Look in Add and Remove Programs.

  • Don't forget smartphones: You can run wallets on phones too. Look for the apps on this list. (Click "Mobile" after you visit that link.)

  • Don't forget paper records: These can have Bitcoin wallets too. Look for a long alphanumeric string beginning with 1, 5, or L (capital "L").

    Example: L1aW4aubDFB7yfras2S1mN3bqg9nwySY8nkoLmJebSLD5BWv3ENZ

  • Talk to people who your father might have talked to about Bitcoin, or how he kept his Bitcoin: This might include the primary beneficiary of the will, or someone who introduced him to Bitcoin.

  • Consider getting a forensic examination of your father's computers: Ask them how much experience they have assisting with Bitcoin related investigations and lawsuits. This can find programs that were installed, then deleted, or files that used to be present on the computer.

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There is no way you can inherit bitcoin. The one who possess corresponding private key (or password as you mentioned) can only possess those bitcoins.

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    Unless the bitcoins are stored by a third-party like blockchain.info, in which case you (may) can recover the account. :) – Kevin Aug 22 '16 at 18:06
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Bitcoin is cold and unfeeling this way. It does not follow moral laws, only that of cryptography. If you have the password, you have access. If you don't, well, you'll have a damn hard time getting in.

Unless your father put his password in his will, or he somehow revealed to you part of his password (You could try and brute force it), you're out of luck.

My condolences for your loss.

  • My impression is that the OP doesn't know how the Bitcoins were managed. There may be no password at all. – Nick ODell Aug 22 '16 at 23:08

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