18th FEBRUARY 2021
Handling someone’s affairs after they die can be a drawn-out and tiring process. You will need to register the death as soon as possible, arrange the funeral, inform the relevant financial organisations, and figure out whether you need to apply for probate, which is a time-consuming task in and of itself. On top of these responsibilities, you may also need to turn your attention to utility bills, such as gas, water, and electricity.
If your loved one’s property is still occupied after their death
If the deceased lived with someone who will continue to live in the property after their death, it is relatively simple to deal with utilities. If the utilities were in the deceased’s name, the person who is still living in the property will need to contact the utility companies to inform them of the death and ask that they transfer all bills to their name.
If your loved one’s property will be unoccupied
If your loved one lived alone, dealing with utilities will be a little more complicated. The first thing that you need to understand is that utility accounts are assets or liabilities of the deceased’s estate. If the account is in credit at the time of death, it is an asset; if the account is in debt, it is a liability.
You should contact the utility companies and give them up-to-date meter readings as soon as possible after your loved one’s death. The companies will give you bills to pay using funds from the estate. New accounts can then be opened under your name or the name of whoever is responsible for dealing with the estate. Keep hold of these bills as you will need them if you are applying for probate, which is required after around half of all deaths in the UK. If you do apply for probate, you must note down the balance of all utility bills on the inheritance tax and probate application forms. Once you have acquired your grant of probate and are ready to sell or transfer the property over to the beneficiaries, you will need to take meter readings once again and ask the utility companies to close the accounts and send you the final bills.
Settling utility bills is just one small part of the probate process, which can be an overwhelming responsibility when you are dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. If you don’t feel like you can take this role on by yourself, there are plenty of probate services and solicitors who can help you. Kwil offers several fixed-fee services with no hidden costs to help you obtain a grant of probate and deal with the estate as quickly and effortlessly as possible.