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Paying a Loved One’s Bills  

In the article, “What Costs Can the Estate Cover,” we mentioned that the executor of the estate is responsible for paying the bills of a passed loved one. If the executor is or will be you, then you may feel nervous at first, but the process of paying your loved one’s bills doesn’t need to be complicated. All you need to do is prepare and get organized. Here’s a checklist to help you prioritize what needs to be done first as you proceed with this process.  

Find Out What Bills Are Owed:  

We pay a number of bills in our lifetime, but if someone passes, and especially if they pass suddenly, we can feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. It might be helpful to reach out to adult children of the deceased who knew where they kept their billing information. If children aren’t available, a close relative might help.  

You will need to obtain information on due dates for the following bills: 

  • Rent  
  • Utilities  
  • Cell phone  
  • Credit cards  
  • Bank accounts 
  • Mortgage payments 

If you, as the executor, have been willed the home and you plan to live there, you can start paying these immediately. You can either cancel the services that no longer apply or change them in your name. If you will not be living in the home or apartment, you will be able to use the estate to pay the remaining bills.  

Have Important Documents Ready: 

Canceling cell phone services and utilities first is best. Deaths are often a touchy subject to maneuver with utility and cell phone providers. They require a lot of information on the passed loved one in order to transfer or cancel accounts. Make sure you have their phone number, address, social security number, and date of death handy before calling. Banks require copies of the death certificate, which is signed-off by a funeral director. You will also need to provide your own information to these companies as well, including employment status and credit information. 

Next, be prepared to call credit card companies to pay off existing debt or to cancel accounts. It is important for this to be done quickly because the deceased are often targets for scams and identity theft. Another issue stemming from open accounts of passed loved ones is unwanted creditor contact. With little information about the deceased’s whereabouts, creditors often contact remaining family members for information. Having all financial information handy is a priority.  

Freezing Credit: 

After calling the credit card companies, you will need to ensure your loved one’s line of credit is frozen. This ensures that no one else can open new lines of credit with their information. This fraudulent activity is a common crime against the deceased. To do this, you will need to call the credit bureau. And again, having your documents ready is absolutely necessary.  

Paying the Mortgage: 

If you were named the heir of your loved one’s home, you can transfer the mortgage in your name. If that is not the case, the mortgage needs to be transferred to the person who is named heir. If you yourself are indeed the heir and you don’t plan to live at the home, you can sell it in order to pay off the mortgage.  

 

Paying your loved one’s bills after they pass is not without its challenges. Having a checklist helps facilitate the transition and make the process go more smoothly. 

 The Carson’s Village timeline serves as a checklist to help you better navigate the period following a death.  Our Advocates are here to help with any questions that you might have regarding this process.  Feel free to call 1-877-789-0722 or click HERE to speak with an Advocate.  All of Carson’s Village’s services are free.

 

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