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Estate Group update: Reward points and digital libraries

Jul 8, 2015

Reward points (such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer, Flybuys etc) are a form of currency and large portfolios of these points can be valuable assets.

Digital libraries (iTunes, Google, Amazon) are often a collection of a loved-one’s books and musical tastes which also carry sentimental or personal value.

Like any other asset, when you are no longer around, most would wish for someone else to have the use or benefit of those points and digital libraries.

What happens to these points or collections when you die?

Loyalty programs and digital libraries are governed by the provider’s contract/licence or policy terms of use.

As such, they are not like a physical asset which you can automatically gift under your Will.

Reward points

Below is a summary of the treatment of points on death by some of the most popular loyalty programs.

ProgramPoints transferrable/redeemable on death
Qantas Frequent FlyerNo – the points are cancelled
Virgin Velocity Frequent FlyerYes – within 12 months of death. The Executors can instruct Virgin to transfer the points or redeem them
Coles FlybuysNo – the points are cancelled
Woolworths Everyday RewardsNo – the points are cancelled
American ExpressYes – if transfer occurs before cancellation of membership
Commonwealth Bank AwardsYes – within six months of death

If the program does not allow points to be transferred, sometimes you are able to add additional family members/others to the account to enable those points to continue to be used by those additional account members post the death (of the initial holder). If this is the case, you should do so.

Digital libraries

When you purchase a song or book etc from a digital provider, you are really purchasing a licence to use the digital file and do not actually own the product.

Most licence agreements are limited to the account holder and restrict transferring or selling the digital library. As they are not your asset, they cannot be gifted under your Will.

More information

To discuss the issues set out in this update or any other issues in relation to estates, please contact a member of our Estate Group on (03) 8600 8885.

Note: This update is a guide only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.