Not all assets can pass at death.
Whether for business or pleasure, you are a seasoned traveler.
You have racked up miles and miles of airline points.
You have and will use many of these.
What happens if you do not use all of those miles before you die?
What becomes of them?
According to a recent The Wall Street Journal article “A Thorny Inheritance Issue: Frequent-Flier Miles,” your frequent fliers miles will likely die with you.
Delta has a small exception for those who receive prior written permission from a vice president or above before they die.
Many airlines make their flier rewards non-transferable.
United and American are two that have this policy.
United and American may be making exceptions with fees in the case of death and specific documentation; however, it is not guaranteed the transfer will take place.
Southwest gives others 24 months to use miles after the owner dies, if those others have the correct login information.
For Emirates and All Nippon, you must request transfer within six months of the death of the owner.
Transfer fees may greatly diminish the reward for many who succeed to the transfers.
Two airlines have a preemptive workaround.
Jet Blue and British Airways allow families to link accounts to “pool” their miles and points.
This, too, must be done before the death of the owner.
The strain of working with airlines while still grieving a loved one should be avoided.
Although you cannot change airline policy and airlines do have the right to make their own policies, there are some steps you may be able to take.
What are they?
Give explicit instructions regarding transfer regarding airline miles in your last will.
This could prove helpful for those who review requests case-by-case.
Provide account information for the airlines.
This would include access to the password, credit care, and email associated with the account.
Accordingly, make sure someone has your account information, passwords, and access to the credit card and email that is associated with the account.
Do not pay to transfer miles.
What if the airline makes you pay?
Be sure it does not wipe out the account miles.
Finally, if the airline allows family sharing, sign up now.
Acting proactively can help your family navigate these situations and receive the benefit of your rewards if at all possible.
After all, you earned them.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (June 19, 2019) “A Thorny Inheritance Issue: Frequent-Flier Miles.”