Local residents visit our New York estate planning attorneys for professional assistance to protect and pass on their assets. Many also expect guidance identifying the items that should be considered an asset and included in the planning. Most area families need to consider things beyond homes, cars, investment portfolios, and similar items when creating their New York estate plan.
For example, what happens to frequent flier miles and rewards upon an individual’s death? Many residents spend years and thousands of dollars in airfare racking up mileages and benefits in airline sponsored loyalty programs. A recent article in Payments News explained how many fliers spend time accumulating these “miles” and rewards only to leave them unused at their death. Some reports indicate that as many as 3.5 trillion miles currently remain unused in these programs. Interestingly, each airline has a different policy in place regarding transferability of loyalty benefits at death. American Airlines specifically allows accumulated mileage credit to be transferred to a person named in a court-approved will or estate plan. Other carriers, such as United Airlines, require that a beneficiary be named with the program, a fee be paid, and require an executor to contact the airline before miles can be transferred.
Another asset which one may wish to leave behind is the option to purchase valuable season tickets. Area residents often spend years waiting for the opportunity to become a season-ticket holder for their favorite teams. A post this weekend at The Faculty Lounge recently discussed this topic. Most teams have policies in place that allow an individual’s decedents to gain the right to purchase. However, it is important to closely examine the team policy related to ticket transferability to understand what issues might arise. For example, there may be conflict over who gains the right if several children share in ones’ assets. Many team policies indicate that there will be no transferability if several individuals share in the right and do not agree on a single transferee. Some teams also expressly prohibit a non-relative from receiving the right to purchase the tickets.
Loyalty reward points and season tickets are just two of an array of assets that an individual may need to consider in their estate plan. Credit card reward points often present the same issues as airline loyalty programs. Many online efforts–like blogs–are becoming important spaces that some may want to leave to others. Also, our New York estate planning attorneys understand the important of passing on values. That is why we often help clients create “ethical wills” which help residents pass on morals and principles gained over a lifetime.
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