Energy bills for a dead man!
in Deaths, funerals & probate
12 replies 1.1K views
My brother in law died 3 weeks ago and did not leave a will. He had been placed in an Assisted Living flat in a kind of care home, which he was renting. He had been removed from the house he owned as he became a cause for concern. The house was in the process of being sold when he died, so that along with everything else has been frozen. My husband is dealing with everything like mail and bill demands until he can get letters of administration. My BiL's energy supplier has been informed of the death and they have known that the house he owned is empty, yet they insist that the standing charges are still paid. My husband asked if the electric and gas could be switched off, but he was told that would incur a cost, (which wasn't revealed). As there is no will, nothing is going to be paid for months anyway, but it would seem that the energy companies will accrue the debt and carry on charging a dead man!! I have been told conflicting stories about debts that have been written off as family cannot be made to pay them, and yet when I was executor for my Dad one of the requirements is to pay off debts - any wise words, please..
I've been called a witch more than once....:eek:
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There is no liability on your BIL’s family to pay these bills that will be down to your husband in his position as administrator but the energy company will have to wait until he obtains LoA before they get paid. If there are no liquid assets in the estate they will need to wait until it is sold.
it would be unwise to cut of the the utilities anyway as heating may be required if the house is to be left empty through winter.
All the connected utilities will impose ongoing standing charges: so gas, electricity and water. The family are never liable, the debt is that of the estate. All utility suppliers allow an executor account to be set up after death.
If there are no cash assets in the estate, then the supplier will have to wait until the property is sold and the bills paid by your husband from the proceeds, along with any other debts, unless he pays them himself and recoups them when he does the distribution.
I found with the estate property that I sold recently, the water company waived all charges whilst the property was unoccupied. They said it was important to keep the water on for cleaning and using the loo whilst we cleared the property and as long as the metering numbers didn't suggest it was occupied, they would stop all charges - and were good to their word.
The power company closed the original account and opened a new one in my name as 'executor for' and I paid a regular amount by DD from the estate and sent monthly meter readings - we were visiting the house weekly, if only to check on it and move things round and as I wasn't local, I stayed there for a few days at a time whilst clearing it. We had security lighting on on random timers etc. Other posters here have reported that power companies will bill regularly, but only expect payment when the account is finalised when the property's sold. So you'd perhaps need to negotiate a new arrangement.
Also think about insurance - if the house is unoccupied - and has been for a little while (usually 60 days is their limit) the usual insurance will have been suspended and you may need specific unoccupied property insurance - which in itself may come with restrictions about the heating being left on (ours did) with a thermostat, or security lighting. We wanted the house to feel still lived in, for our own comfort, but for potential buyers viewing etc. - as a cold empty house feels very uncomfortable and deteriorates quickly.
Disconnecting power supplies off can cost a lot of money - according to recent posts in the energy forum - maybe £250-300 per fuel. Then the same again to reinstate them for the new buyer. Yet the standing charges for both fuels (if indeed there are both) will be around £250 (based on my own charges) in total for a year. So it probably makes economic sense to just leave them on - with the added benefits that brings.
I found British Gas pretty snotty to deal with (the bereavement dept), but for other bereavements the energy suppliers have been helpful. Still billed for standing charge & any minor useage, changed to 'estate of', told to ignore it all until estates were wrapped up & properties sold.
We didn't want energy cut off, it invalidated property insurance if minimal heating wasn't on set at 10 degrees, & we had some lamps on timers.
No different to any other empty property that carries paying utilities.
OP, to stop paying the standing charge you would need to pay for the meters to be removed. Then to be put back when the property is sold. Likely to be 1K plus, if not more.