After someone passes away, the gas, water, electricity and telephone companies that they were connected to need to be contacted.
A death notification needs to be sent to each of the companies to formally inform them of the death.
This is one of the key tasks to complete when someone dies, but (unlike the majority of the death management process) it can be done by any of the deceased’s personal representatives, including their next of kin, a close friend or a family member.
In fact, as this is traditionally a very time-consuming job is often shared by a number of people, so that no one person has to take it all on themselves.
Below, we’ve outlined the process of dealing with utility accounts after a loved one dies, including a guide to informing the required companies, and a breakdown of how to conclude any outstanding bills.
Why do I need to contact the utility companies?
People can make the mistake of allowing some of the death notifications fall to the bottom of their to-do list.
But, it’s a good idea to notify all the relevant companies as quickly as possible, particularly in the case of utility companies.
Firstly because, if they are not informed they could continue to bill the deceased for their services. Which can lead to the unwanted extra stress of demands for unpaid bills.
Secondly, and more importantly, if someone lived with the deceased, but the account is in the deceased’s name, the account twill need to be transferred into a new name. Otherwise, the account may be closed unexpectedly, which could mean someone being left without these services.
Once the utility company has been informed of the death, they can either close, freeze or transfer the account, as you require.
If you need to close the account, the utility company will follow their own internal processes, and this will need to be done before outstanding debt or credit can be settled.
What do I need to tell a utility company after a death?
You should be ready to provide the name, address, account number (if relevant) and the deceased’s date of death.
Alongside this, you might also need to tell them whether the deceased’s property is owned or rented, occupied or empty, provide a current meter reading from the property, and possibly a copy of the death certificate, for example.
The information you need to provide will differ, depending on company that you are contacting, even if they are in the same sector. So, you will need to look at each company’s unique internal processes, learn what information they’ll need from you, and find out how they ask you to provide it.
How do I settle any utility bills after a loved one dies?
The process for settling utility bills after the death of a loved one is along the lines of:
- Notify the deceased’s bank and utilities companies – ideally, this should be done on the same day. This way, the bank can freeze any direct debit payments, including those to the utility providers and when this happens, the utility companies will be aware of the cause.
- The final bill will be calculated – normally this is done once the property has been sold (if the deceased owned the property), and a new resident moves in, or the estate agent takes over the property (if it is a rental). This is because utilities may sporadically be required, for example, if you need to clean the property to prepare it for sale. If you are selling the property, the final bill will be based on the meter reading of the property on the day that it is sold.
- Make the payment – once the bill has been calculated, you will need to pay this amount. It is the job of the executor to manage this payment, but it will be paid through funds from the deceased’s estate (rather than being paid by the executor through their own money).
Take note that, if the deceased’s utility account is in credit, this will be classed as an asset, which needs to be declared as part of the estate. Any assets or liabilities that emerge as part of this process need to be declared in full.
Alternatively, if you lived with the deceased you need to contact your utilities providers, and inform them of the death. Then ask them to change the account into your name.
How do I send a death notification?
A death notification is a formal message, email, letter or telephone call, in which a company is told that one of their customers has recently passed away.
You can do this by contacting them on a company by company basis or you can use Life Ledger to notify all the companies connected to the deceased from one place, for free.
Once your notification has been sent, the utility company can launch their internal processes, and will work with you to action the next steps required.