Am I responsible for sibling's debt?

My sister was renting our mother's house. She moved out and now I'm moving in. I went to have the electricity and water connected (they are bundled here), and they said my sister didn't pay her bills. As a sibling, I have to pay the balance or they will not start a new account for me. Is this legal? How can I be responsible for her debt? If my mother rented to a stranger, they would not be responsible.

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Nov 26, 2011
Am I responsible for sibling's debt?

You are only responsible for debt that you incur in your own name or debt that you guarantee payment on. For example, you signed paperwork promising that if your sister did not pay her utility bill, you would Assuming you did not sign such paperwork, then you are not obligated to pay your sister's outstanding utility bill and I do not see any reason why the utility is refusing to provide you with service.

One thought -- is it possible that when your sister initiated service at your mother's address she did so in your name, not hers? If she did, that would explain why the utility won't provide you with new service. Have you asked the utility in whose name the past due account is in? If your sister initiated her service in your name, then she committed identity theft, which is a crime, and you may want to consult with an attorney.

If you confirm that your sister initiated the service in her own name, not yours, then I recommend that you contact the Public Utility Commission in your state to find out what your rights are and what recourse you may have.

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