My husband does international business. He is very secretive about his activities. I heard him talking about a “private key” he has. I overheard him talking about a cold wallet. We are not getting along, and I am afraid he is hiding assets. I’d like to be on top of finding assets. What is he talking about, and how do I find this cold wallet? What should I look for with this private key?
It sounds like your husband is dealing with cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin. A cold wallet is a secure option for storing cryptocurrency offline, as contrasted with a hot wallet, which is online storage (nonsecure).
You want to look for something like a USB stick, which is a hardwire cold wallet. Hardwire cold wallets are the best. Three common brands are as follows: Ledgar Nano X, Trezor and KeepKey. You also might look for credit card/debit card purchases of these items, because they are not free. Note, however, that your husband could be using a cryptocurrency for payment of the cold wallet. If you find the cold wallet, you must maintain its security because if the private key is lost, the asset is lost.
Bitcoin has public keys (public addresses) and a private key (your private address). The private key is unique to the particular Bitcoin asset. The private key is a 256-bit number, but not necessarily displayed in that format. The Bitcoin private key is a 256-bitnumber in a hexadecimal form. This is complex encryption. Hexadecimal or “hex” is a mathematical base 16, which uses the digits 0 to 9 and then six extra symbols or letters. If you see papers among your husband’s things with odd strings of letters and numbers, that also might be what you are looking for as proof of cryptocurrency ownership.
Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”