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What happens to your Avios points when you die?

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Yes, a cheery subject for a Monday morning.  However, this is something that rarely comes up but does impact quite a few people, especially those who were hoarding Avios during their career to spend during retirement.

I focused on this three years ago.  I had been contacted by a reader whose father had passed away.  Both father and son had been in the same British Airways Household Account and the son had assumed that his late fathers Avios points would pass to him as head of the Household Account.  He was surprised to discover that this is not the case.

To be fair to British Airways, the rules of the Executive Club have always been clear on this point.   Clause 3.12.2 states:

upon the death of a Member, Avios Points, Tier Points and Lifetime Tier Points accumulated but unused at the time of death shall be cancelled.

BA Gold

Not all airlines have such a policy.  American Airlines, for example, will consider (and usually grants) transfers where the miles are specifically earmarked in a will.

The obvious way around this is the slightly dubious one of logging into the account of the deceased person and redeeming their Avios points for a flight for yourself.  British Airways does not insist that the credit card used to pay for a redemption is in the same name as the account holder so that would not be an issue.

Whilst this is technically against the rules, I would not personally chastise anyone who acted this way.

After my original piece three years ago, however, I was contacted by a solicitor who is also a ‘miles and points’ enthusiast.  He had dealt with a number of estates where the deceased had an Avios balance as one of their ‘assets’.

In each case, he had written to British Airways Executive Club with a copy of the Grant of Probate.  He advised BAEC that one of the residiuary beneficiaries had their own BA account and included the details.  Without fail, BA has agreed to transfer the Avios and tier points.

It appears that, when approached formally by a solicitor with the correct documentation, BA is willing to bend their published rules.

On a similar note …… you may want to consider making sure that other people can access your mileage account should anything happen to you.  If you have 1 million Avios in your account then, at a 1p valuation, you are looking at over £10,000 of value.  Not peanuts by any means and certainly not something you would want British Airways to wipe out on a whim.

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Comments

  1. Waribai says:

    I’ve actually had to deal with this recently but involving a much smaller sum than 1 million.
    Without involving a solicitor, I thought that an easier way of using the miles was to keep the deceased as part of a household account. Of course, this assumes the deceased is a family member and living at the same address.

  2. the real harry1 says:

    With avios.com, you could transfer individual BAEC points to avios.com, forming a HHA, later close the avios.com HHA a/c and decide on allocation of points, eg one member could get 100% of the points. I presume (given the demise of bog standard avios.com a/cs), that this is still possible on remaining avios.com platform a/cs ie Aer Club etc.

  3. the real harry1 says:

    Similarly, if you formed a BAEC HHA prior to the death of one member of the HHA, there would be no need to inform BAEC of the death & the deceased’s points would be used up with ongoing redemptions pro rata. You could speed up this process by moving all except the deceased’s points to another Avios platform (eg IB, should be do-able on the phone), then carry on redeeming for flights out of the HHA. All the points on redemptions would come out of the deceased’s a/c until used up.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Or even form the BAEC HHA after the death of the family member with points that would otherwise be lost…

  4. Genghis says:

    I can understand why more permanent avios could be transferred but not annual (or even lifetime??) TPs. There’s some potential there for TP runs for the time poor done by the father whilst on his last legs

    • David says:

      Yes, I do not understand the ‘transferring tier points’ statement.

      Grateful for some clarification.

      Thanks

    • Agreed very surprising re tier point transfer, wonder why they would offer that?

      • From the opposite perspective why not? If it makes the solicitor go away quietly. How frequently does this happen in reality?

      • Genghis says:

        Just to say it’s accepted for the problem to go away, doesn’t make it right (old biddies and rogue traders perhaps?). Avios can be earned in many ways and can be transferred (for a fee or free if Gold etc) under normal conditions and shared within a HHA. TPs are solely from personal flying and can never be transferred from one person to another, unless seemingly if they die…

        • Sounds like a daily mail headline on their way… ‘Spouse murdered for their tier points’…

  5. Rob – how about a similar article about American Express rewards> Plenty people ‘horde’ their amex balance, myself included, and transfer to the various schemes as and when necessary,

  6. Alex W says:

    Rob you’ve previously said miles and points are not subject to income tax, does the same apply to inheritance tax?

    • The Avios belong to Avios Group, they are never yours, so presumably no value.

      • If you read that “explanation” slowly you’ll realise it sounds completely bogus 🙂

  7. Mike M says:

    When my late in-laws passed away, leaving a small, but meaningful number of Avios in our household account I wrote to BA, attaching proof of my role as executor of the estate and confirming my wife’s position as sole beneficiary. In fairness to BA they transferred the Avios to my wife with no fuss at all.

    • I’ve had similar experience, no need to involve a solicitor, just contact BA directly and they will arrange a transfer.

  8. If you were Gold For Life and passed on your tier points when you died, would the receiver therefore get GFL? Or would it just be a meaningless number that’s added to your Lifetime TP total?

  9. When my mother died 7 years ago I contact Avios and they transferred them to my name without any issues.

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