VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Bourdain's estate plan includes gift of airline miles

Floridians who are fans of the late Anthony Bourdain might be interested to know how his estate plan was designed to reflect the most important things in his life. The world traveler and television personality was thorough in creating a plan that passes the bulk of his estate to his only child. His daughter will not get the whole estate, however, as Bourdain left his accumulated frequent flyer miles to his estranged wife with the instruction that she should dispose of them in accordance to what she thinks would be his wishes.

Bourdain's specific gift highlights a common oversight among people creating their estate plans. Many forget to include provisions to dispose of these perks and points that can add up to real value for people who travel a lot. A 2018 study by Nerd Wallet found that 68 percent of adults in the U.S. have credit cards that pay travel rewards.

Because every airline has its own policy regarding passing rewards on to heirs, many attorneys who work in estate planning include frequent flyer miles in tangible asset plan provisions. However, loyalty programs with airlines are essentially contracts between the airline and the traveler. A person who wants to make a gift of his or her airline miles after death should review the terms of the particular agreements that govern the miles.

People who have questions about developing an estate plan may want to consult with an attorney. Legal counsel with experience in estate planning may be able to help by reviewing the facts of a client's situation and designing an estate plan that includes a will along with one or more trusts. Using trusts and other instruments in the estate plan can reduce stress for beneficiaries and provide tax advantages.

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