BILLS AND SERVICES TO CANCEL WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES
In addition to the emotional difficulty of processing someone’s death, there are also many tasks that must be dealt with. When a loved one dies, you'll need to go through their various accounts and property. For example, you may need to cancel some subscriptions and transfer ownership of others. This includes utilities, insurance, streaming services, and other recurring payments. Settling these accounts helps avoid unnecessary charges and protect against identity theft and fraud. If the duty of handling outstanding accounts falls on you, we're here to help. This article lists steps you can take to identify accounts and figure out what to do with them.
Deciding Whether to Cancel or Keep a Loved One's Account
The first step is to figure out what accounts they had. You can do this by looking through their mail, email, and/or phone notifications. If you're lucky, the deceased may have compiled a list of these accounts as part of their estate plan. Once you have identified what accounts were in the deceased’s name, you can move on to the next step of deciding whether to cancel or keep them.
Unless the subscription service is a shared family plan, you'll likely want to cancel it.
The typical American has five subscription services, and one in five has eight or more subscription services. In addition to streaming and media services like Netflix, Hulu, and Audible, don't forget delivery services like Amazon Prime, Walmart+, and subscription box services. Watch out for recurring monthly deliveries.
Independent content creators are a large contingent of the digital media ecosystem. A growing number of social media sites provide opportunities for “digital patronage,” or delivering direct, recurring support to online content creators. Platforms that enable digital patronage include Patreon, Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
You can check bank or credit card statements to find out if a loved one has any subscriptions to their favorite content creators. Keep an eye out for reoccurring charges. These are prime cancellation targets.
Decisions around utilities can be a bit more difficult than subscription services. Utilities may need to be temporarily kept in the deceased’s name, transferred to another person, or canceled, depending on the circumstances.
● Keeping utilities in the name of the deceased should be okay on a short-term basis while the estate is resolved. Please check with the utility company.
● If utilities were in the deceased’s name and they lived with someone else, the accounts should be transferred to that individual. The same goes if a family member plans to take over occupancy or ownership. For example, if the house was left to a beneficiary in the will.
● Utility accounts can be canceled following estate administration, but consider the timing. If the house is being put on the market, utilities are typically kept on until after closing.
● Although not technically a utility, a home security system deserves the same consideration. Security is particularly important for a home that is left vacant for extended periods.
● Do not deactivate a loved one’s cell phone service until you have retrieved all needed information you need from the phone. Again, this can include notifications about bills and other services that need to be canceled or transferred.
Many accounts fit into the main buckets listed above, but not all. It may take a thorough sleuthing effort to uncover every account linked to a loved one’s name. Here are some more examples of accounts you may need to resolve, either by canceling or transferring account ownership:
● Memberships to gyms, sports clubs, cultural institutions, unions, HOAs, Costco, and other fee-based groups or services
● Physical newspapers, newsletters, and magazines
● Financial advisor, personal trainer, accountant, life coach, etc.
● Pet-related dues and subscriptions
● Meal delivery services
● Music subscriptions (Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Sirius XM, etc.)
Hire a Probate Attorney for Estate Administration in Central Ohio
As you deal with the emotional challenges of a death in the family, you may be simultaneously navigating legal issues related to losing someone close to you. Being named an estate administrator or executor comes with a lot of responsibility. Our estate planning attorneys offer services tailored to executors that help them do right by their loved one—and the law. For answers to your estate administration questions, reach out to our team at 614-408-0529.
Don't know where to start? Download our Probate Checklist here.