When you think of estate planning, you think of houses being deeded or beneficiaries collecting on life insurance policies. But it is very rare to think of assets like tickets to sporting events as being a part of estate planning. Think again…
Many athletic programs, both professional and collegiate, have families who have had season tickets for years if not decades. Currently, the Green Bay Packers are reported to have a waiting list of 87,000. The fans on the waiting list for Pittsburgh Steelers tickets had better be patient – at this point, the Steelers organization estimates that it will take 50 football seasons to clear the list that exists today.
Many families consider this a legacy – to be able to pass assets like reserved season tickets down to other generations. But many sports organizations place restrictions on how tickets can be transferred and to whom. These so-called “transfer policies” can determine on a team-by-team basis how the inheritance of tickets is handled. If the transfer policies are not followed, the organization has the right to determine who gets the tickets.
The aforementioned Packers basically have their own inheritance plan, much like state intestate estate laws. If the ticket holder does not complete a transfer document before death, but gives direction in a will or other “writing,” the tickets may go to designated family members AS LONG AS the relatives are no farther removed from the ticket holder than a first cousin. If there are no explicit directions regarding these assets, the tickets go to his or her surviving spouse or, if none, to any surviving children.
As with any other assets, deaths and divorces and remarriages can definitely complicate the issue. Say the surviving spouse gets the tickets and remarries a man who already has two children. After they marry, the surviving wife dies without making further arrangements for the tickets. As the surviving spouse, her new husband (and presumably his children) get the tickets. The children of the first marriage are left out.
If you have assets like season tickets that you want to pass along to your family after you die, first make sure that you know the team’s transfer policy. Then consult an estate planning attorney for advice on how to make sure that the transfer policy works for you according to your wishes.