Articles Posted in Digital Assets

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.

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Common assets that are overlooked in most estate plans are digital assets. Nearly everyone today has some kind of online account. Whether it is online access to bank accounts, emails, photo albums, social media or shopping, all digital assets should be considered when creating a comprehensive plan.

Unfortunately, without the proper planning, digital assets can be very difficult to manage after a person dies. Most companies will only allow the family of a deceased person to close out accounts but they will not allow access to any of the information. Online photo albums and facebook profiles can be lost and all the information along with it. Email address and contacts will be inaccessible. This may all seem trivial until you need to gain access to one of these accounts and they are unobtainable.

As part of your estate plan, you should consider what you would like to happen with your digital assets when you pass away. Would you like to give access to your Successor Trustee or Executor? Would you prefer a family member or friend to handle them? Alternatively, would you like a third party to manage and close them?

Consider the following suggestions for all digital assets:

Tell your family about your wishes and give them an overview of the types of accounts you have.

Create a list of all your accounts along with usernames and passwords and include this in your estate planning documents.

Contact a company such as Entruted, Legacy Locker or DataInherit that will manage and distribute your digital assets when you pass away. Some can also send out messages to all your contacts and/or social media friends.
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State Bar of California