‘Passing’ on your Points

October 25, 2018 Noah Weisberg Beneficiary Designations, Estate Planning Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

As an avid Seinfeld fan, I recently watched the episode where Elaine Benes kept on eating submarine sandwiches just so she could collect enough points to earn a free sub.  Spoiler alert: Elaine lost the loyalty card before redeeming the free sub.  Unfortunately, many estates fail to take advantage of these rewards and end up just like Elaine.

It is estimated that in the US alone, three trillion frequent flyer miles are given annually.  Notwithstanding this dizzying number of points, in Ontario there is no law addressing if, and how, points can be transferred upon death.  Airlines are left to create their own procedure and standards.

There is a helpful resource, here, which sets out the policies of the major US frequent flyer programs in plain english.  The CBC offers similar information for Canadian frequent flyer programs here.  While some airlines permit the transfer of points, many discount their value.  Some even refuse to allow there to be a transfer altogether.

As discussed in my previous blog, Anthony Bourdain included his frequent flyer miles in his will.  Given the suspected value of these points, this estate planning decision makes sense.

In considering an estate plan, a testator should, first, decide whether to choose airlines based on the ability to transfer points.  Second, if a testator has amassed significant points, and they are transferrable, make sure to include them in a will.

Noah Weisberg

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