What happens to utility bills when someone dies?

We know that grieving the death of a loved one is a difficult time, with lots to think about and do. In regard to their estate, and in the grand scheme of things that need to be dealt with, settling utility bills can seem a relatively minor matter. Nonetheless, it is important that they are dealt with correctly.

What happens to utility bills when someone dies depends on whether you are inheriting the property following the death of a loved one, or if they have left a now unoccupied property.

If you are inheriting or continuing to live in the property you shared with your loved one then, more often than not, you will simply need to contact the companies concerned and ask to be made the bill payer. There may be more to sort out if your loved one leaves a now unoccupied property.

Read on for further information on how to cancel utility bills after death.

Council Tax After Death

Following the death of a loved one, the council tax office should be informed about the death of an occupant of a property. They will require the following information:

  • The name of the person who has died
  • The address where they lived
  • Whether a single person discount is now needed.
  • The names and addresses of any executors to the will of the dead person
  • The name and address of an appointed solicitor if you wish the council to deal directly with them.

Tell Us Once is a government service which lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. This service is not available in Northern Ireland or the following local authorities:

  • Brighton and Hove
  • East Sussex
  • Eastbourne
  • Hastings
  • Lewes
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Medway
  • Rother
  • Wealden

When you register the death of your loved one, the registrar will be able to let you know if it is offered in your region. If it is, they will provide you with a phone number and unique reference number to use for the online or telephone service. If the service is not available then you'll need to contact the departments separately.

Water, Electric & Gas

Firstly, when it comes to closing or settling water, electric and gas bills, you should locate the relevant meters and take readings as soon as possible. Then look on a recent bill for contact details. The Consumer Council for Water also lists water companies in England and Wales. Inform the utilities company of your circumstances and provide them with your recent, up to date readings. Following this, you will be sent a final bill up to the meter readings you have given. Depending on whether your dead loved one was in debt or was owed money, the balances can be paid to/from the estate.

TV, Phone & Internet

If you need to cancel a TV license following the death of your loved one you can do so by filling out a contact form on the TV licensing website. You will be required to provide the title, initial, last name, address and license number (if possible) of the person who has died.

Alternatively, if you lived with the TV license holder and still require a license for your address you can inform TV licensing via email (using the 'Contact us' form) or post. Send a short, signed letter stating that the licensee has died, and the person who remains at the address (you). If the bank account details for the direct debit need to be changed these should be enclosed too. Any future correspondence will be addressed to you. The address to write to is:

Customer services,
TV Licensing,
DL98 1TL

In terms of cancelling internet, landline or mobile phone bills, most mobile operators/internet providers have a policy in place should the bill payer die. Here are some useful resources from popular mobile, landline and internet providers in the UK:

    Recurring Medical Prescriptions

    Many people have regular, automatically recurring medical prescriptions at a pharmacy. In the UK, the following groups of people are entitled to free prescriptions:

    • Those aged 60 or over
    • Those aged under 16
    • Those aged 16-18 and in full-time education
    • Those pregnant or have had a baby in the past 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
    • Those with a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
    • Those who have a continuing disability which prevents them from going out without help from another person and have a valid Med Ex
    • Those who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
    • Those who are an NHS inpatient

    More information can be found here regarding: prescription entitlements.

    However, if you’re unsure whether this was applicable to your loved one and their prescriptions then the best thing to do is contact the doctor that cared for them. They should be able to confirm if your loved one was on any medication that may have been automatically refilled. They may also know the name of the pharmacy where the prescription was automated to, meaning you can contact them to cancel the ongoing prescription.

    Mortgage Payments & Rent

    When a mortgage holder dies, their monthly payments will still need to be paid. Legally, it is entirely possible for lenders to demand the full sum of the mortgage be repaid and hold the right to force the sale of a property to reclaim any outstanding balance. In most cases, however, lenders will be sympathetic and understanding of the lengthy legal process.

    If your loved one was in debt or in the process of making mortgage payments:

    • Inform your loved one’s mortgage lender about their death as soon as possible.
    • If you are the executor, pay the debts off in priority order. Naturally, secured debts such as a mortgage should be prioritised first. If you want to keep their property in your name, you will need to undergo a mortgage assessment to confirm you are able to take over mortgage payments.

    If you’re loved one was renting a property, you’ll need to contact the landlord. At the end of the notice period, which is typically 4 weeks, the house will need to be cleared of all possessions belonging to your loved one. For further information on rent and mortgage payments after death, including joint mortgages, read our blog post: Dealing With Money Following A Death

    We hope the above has been useful for you when it comes to settling a loved one’s utility bills after their death. Discover more information below about how to organise or close the following, associated accounts when someone has died:

    The above is for your guidance only. Your relationship to the person who has died, i.e. whether you are married or not, might impact on whether the above advice is applicable to you.

    You should always seek legal advice following the death of someone close to you.