Brother ran up utility bills following death of father. Who is responsible for paying?

by shinethelight
(Michigan)

After my Dad passed, my brother took over (squatter) living in the home and ran up a hefty electric bill. He may also have used credit cards. Who is responsible for paying those debts?

Comments for Brother ran up utility bills following death of father. Who is responsible for paying?

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May 23, 2012
Brother ran up utility bills following death of father. Who is responsible for paying?
by: Debtcollectionanswers.com

From a moral/ethical point of view, I would say that your brother is responsible for paying those debts. He is the one who benefited from the utility service and the credit cards. However, if the accounts are in your father's name, then the utility and the credit card companies are entitled to look to his estate (all of the assets he owned) for payment.

Your question raises several questions/issues:

1. Is your brother an authorized user on your father's credit card accounts or are the accounts in the names of both your brother and your father? If not, he is not entitled to use the cards.

2. If the cards are in your father's name only, they should be cancelled right away.

3. All other accounts that are in your father's name should also be cancelled, including his utility accounts, phone service, etc. If you are okay with your brother living in the house the utilities need to be in his name.

Did your father write a will before he died? If he did, has the will been probated? If he wrote a will, he designated someone to act as his executor. The executor should file the will with the probate court so that, among other things, your father's debts can be paid out of his estate. Once that happens, the executor will transfer any assets that remain to your father's beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.
The executor is also the one who will probably need to cancel all of your father's accounts.

If your father died without a will, then you should go to the probate court and ask it to name an administrator for your father's estate. This person could be you or some other responsible adult. The administrator will do what an executor would have done although if there is no will, the inheritance law of the state where your father resided will determine who inherits his assets.

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