Can You Inherit Loyalty Points from a California Estate?

The short answer is, not easily. Generally, the airline’s policy is that your miles expire when you do. The crux of the problem is that airlines own the miles. You don’t. It is buried deep in nearly all frequent-flier program terms and conditions. They, therefore, can make any rules they want. Additionally, those terms and conditions also usually contain provisions prohibiting the sale or transfer of miles thereby making it difficult to pass them on when you die. Even if an airline might be lenient, they probably will impose a fee to transfer miles after death. The last thing you want to be doing after a loved one dies is pleading with an airline company so that you don’t lose your loved one’s 500,000 points.

A recent Wall Street Journal article suggests the following:

1. Have a will. Many airline companies don’t understand revocable trusts so having a will and including specific language about the airline miles is important.
2. Make sure your accounts remain active. It’s much harder to work with a surviving spouse when the deceased spouse’s account is about to expire.
3. Don’t call credit card companies to inform them of a death until you’ve implemented a plan for the airline miles. Many companies will simply close accounts (and points will be lost) when the credit card company associated with the loyalty program is informed of the death of a cardholder.
4. Make sure you give online access to the person you want to receive the miles. This includes giving them account numbers and login information and passwords. You should also give the login information and passwords for the credit card associated with the loyalty program as well as your email.

The estate planning attorneys at Burt & Associates can help you create an estate plan that covers all your assets.

AVVO
AV PREEMINENT
State Bar of California