Regardless of your team colors, season tickets are often prized possessions that provoke disagreements between family members and business associates when a season ticketholder dies. In 2010, two brothers sued one another over the division of sales profits from their late father’s Green Bay Packers 50-yard line season tickets.
What happens to season tickets when you die?
Each professional sports organization has its own policy regarding season ticket transfers at death of the ticket holder. While some organizations will be flexible and work with families, other organizations require strict adherence to a written transfer policy that restricts a ticketholder’s ability to freely transfer tickets. It should come as no surprise that a franchise enjoying a winning record is often more likely to require strict adherence to written transfer policies than a franchise trying to fill seats. Universities are generally more flexible with season ticket transfers, especially for alumni.
For example, the Denver Broncos have a passionate fan base and a wait list of at least five years for season tickets. The Broncos and New England Patriots both follow account transfer policies that only allow account transfers to an immediate family member and require all transfers be accomplished during a specifi time period using the official Denver Broncos Season Ticket Assignment Form. This means that a Broncos ticket holder cannot transfer tickets to a second cousin, neighbor, or friend.
Similarly, Green Bay Packers season tickets can only be transferred to the immediate family members designated in a written directive by the deceased ticketholder (e.g., a Will, Trust, or the Packers Official Transfer Form). If the ticket holder does not provide a written directive, the tickets pass to the ticketholder’s spouse or to the surviving children of the deceased ticket holder. If the children cannot agree on who will own the tickets, the season tickets revert back to the Packers to sell to the lucky fan at the top of the waiting list.
For $10, the San Francisco 49ers allow season ticketholders to transfer season tickets using the 49ers Official Transfer Form. The 49ers require the ticketholder of record to submit the signed and notarized Transfer Form to the ticket office within 30 days of the notary date.
The San Jose Sharks do not allow direct transfer of season ticket accounts. Instead, a primary ticketholder can add a secondary name to the account as a “Care of” to allow the secondary name access to the account and tickets.
When transferring tickets, keep in mind that many teams require documentation such as a birth certificate and death certificate to complete the transfer. Some teams, including the Chicago Cubs, don’t allow transfers, so when someone dies, his or her season tickets go to the next person on the waiting list.
What to Do?
Unless your team prohibits transfers altogether, making provisions for your season tickets doesn’t have to be difficult. Some tips:
- If you have a large family and the tickets are highly desired, consider transferring the account during your lifetime.
- Speak with your family members regarding your intentions for your season tickets or write a note to the person you want to leave the tickets to, explaining your reasoning and dating the note. Making your wishes known while you are alive can help ensure your wishes are honored hurt feelings are avoided.
- If you already have an estate plan in place but it doesn’t deal with your season tickets, you can typically contact a customer service agent and complete a Ticket Transfer Form. The form can be kept with your other estate planning documents and used after your death.
- Because some organizations place restrictions on the sale of season tickets, contact your team’s customer service if you want your estate to sell your season tickets after you die. Some organizations place restrictions on the sale of season tickets.
- If your business owns season tickets and you have business partners, consider addressing the issue in your business agreement and employee contract.
If you’re thinking about what to do with your lucky season tickets, contact my office for guidance.