Many people today have accumulated a significant number of frequent flyer or other reward program points. These points can have substantial value. In fact, I recently received an email relaying the strategy one person developed to travel around the world very inexpensively using his rewards points earned skillfully through his credit card. I must admit I was skeptical when I initially read the headline of his article, but eventually had to admit that his system is indeed impressive.
As a result, when preparing your estate plan, you should consider any reward points, particularly frequent flyer points. Each rewards program has its own rules concerning whether they can be transferred on death, to whom they can be transferred and whether, if not specifically gifted, they can be administered by the executor(s) of an estate. It is prudent, then, to review the governing contract for provisions relating to the death of a member for each reward program for which you have a membership.
Interestingly, if a will which includes a disposition of rewards points must be probated, the task of valuing the points to calculate estate administration tax would then have to be completed. While each rewards program may have different procedures for transfer of points on a member’s death, it is wise to have a death certificate, the deceased’s reward program account information, a letter or contact information from the executor of the estate and your own account into which the points can be transferred.
Most plans provide that points can be transferred to immediate family members but not exchanged for money. As with any assets of an estate, disputes can develop if proper planning is not done. However, in the case of rewards points, there is the additional concern that the benefit of accumulated points may never be realized as family members may not be aware of their existence. As is advisable for all assets in an estate plan, relevant documents detailing specific data about a testator’s assets, including reward program account statements, should be left in a safe place where the executor and next-of-kin have been directed to look for them.
If you have a question or concern about planning for an unusual asset or estate planning in general, please contact Andrea Kelly.
Andrea Kelly, Lawyer, has extensive experience in wills, trusts, powers of attorney and estate administration matters. She provides clients with a high standard of timely professionalism and expertise, incorporating a very thorough fact finding process. This is quite often enlightening for her clients and facilitates individually tailored services. If you would like to know more, feel free to use the easy contact form or read Andrea’s bio.