Currently, there are legal mechanisms to ensure certain tasks are carried out when someone dies, but nothing compared to a smart contract. An extensive document with clear rules can be carried out by an estate, but a smart contract can carry out actions across borders and into the deepest depths of the internet. Just as we recognize corporations as entities that take actions, it could become the norm to consider the activities of decentralized entities. For now, the code of the contract is easily viewable to anyone, so its actions can be predicted; however, the execution of a smart contract can’t be switched off anywhere as easily as a script running on a server.
A smart contract-based will and testament could disburse funds in an arbitrarily complex fashion, and even monitor the use of those funds to make decisions about future disbursements. In this future, anyone with some programming skills could retain control of their finances until the money ran out. Quick caveat: three major faults in post-mortem smart contract execution are vulnerabilities in dependent libraries, a hard fork, and of course the death of the decentralized network it runs on. Aside from these major events, the contract would continue running without fail. One day soon, blockchain will enable ancestor’s money to follow its own rules and keep an eye on their heirs and affairs.