How to pay bills after I die (!)

The relatives file an action with the probate court, the court appoints an administrator, the administrator pays the bills with the courts approval.

My opinion is that is the best legal option.

my concern is that the process could take months to get a court paper. In the meantime, house bills go unpaid…gas, electric, water, property tax, insurance… How can this non-payment of bills after death be avoided?

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Anyone can pay your bills, if they know how much and where to send a check. It doesn’t have to be money from your account, or a check or credit card with your name on it. This happened to me when I lost my brother – I paid his bills until I got court authority and a bank account for the estate, all within 2 weeks of his death. Whoever pays the bills submits an accounting to the executor/administrator to get reimbursement.

You could also keep, say, 2 months of credit on your utility accounts. Insurance and property taxes, I don’t know. You could call your utility and insurance companies and ask if they’re gonna get mad if you die and it’s 2-3 months before anyone pays your bills.

With a simple trust. It’s not difficult, nor is it expensive, and it is the best and most effective way to assure that your last wishes are carried out.

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All information on the handling of bank accounts after the primary holder dies points to the fact that different banks and credit unions handle the process in different ways. It seems to be a bank choice as to whether the account is frozen from even joint owners.

I think I’m finding this to be true.

My main bank says the joint account will continue as usual if I pass ( though I wonder if that’s completely accurate, and I have nothing in writing).

My credit union says the account gets closed and the joint owner is issued a check – which to me, makes them a beneficiary and not a joint owner! I asked them if the joint owner was a spouse do they do the same and they said yes, they completely shut down the account on a spouse!!

The bottom line is to ask about their procedures to be sure! It’s not standardized.

B/A support is very confusing [and useless] so I have an appt at the bank next week. Hopefully, they actually know something.

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Are there any negatives about making my heir a joint owner of my banking accounts?

Other than they can clean out your account while you are alive ?

They already have access to my VG and TRP accts. The checking account is small potatoes.

Ohhhh, you are soooo right!

I was hospitalized years ago so I arranged auto-pays for most everything. I have about twenty. [no kidding] When my time comes, I want things paid for automatically until heirs cancel or continue.


When I die, ALL my accounts, checking, savings, CC’s DC’s are blocked and cannot be used ever again! My account is owned by my trust and my heirs are co-owners. I also have them listed as 50/50 beneficiaries.

Problem solved, right? Wrong again.

All accounts are blocked and can never be ‘un’- blocked.

My heirs can get check for the funds, but those auto-pays will stop. I am now looking at adding a co-owner, but not certain even that works.

Very discouraging.

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I think you are looking for something that does not exist, a pain-free, no-problems and easy settlement of your estate after you pass. It doesn’t exist.

When people pass there are lot of potential problems that can arise. Life is complicated and no one knows and appreciates the myriad of possible events and details that are possible.

Bills and obligations of the deceased can pop up from nowhere and it takes time and work to sort out the ones that are valid and those that are scammers.

Consider resigning yourself that the people you ask to take care of your affairs when you pass will have some difficult and possibly pesky tasks on your behalf.

You can make it easier for them, but you can’t make it easy for them.

There certainly are some number of surprises that come up in the settlement of someone’s estate that no one knew about, couldn’t plan for, etc, and the poor personal representative just has to deal with it. This is true whether there’s a will, no will, or a trust. But it is annoying, if you’re a good planner like nancym and robertpri, to find out that your plans aren’t going to do what you intended – put an heir on your checking acct only to find out the acct gets closed instead of stays open to allow the heir to pay bills.

I think they’re also looking for speed, not necessarily ease, because they don’t want the courts to cause delays or any interruptions in the bill paying. IMHO, courts get a bad rap and don’t always deserve it. And trusts don’t guarantee speed, either. Lists and instructions help a lot.

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Alas, it appears you are correct. Adding to my disappointment with the bank, there are no online helps or suggestions, or how-tos for seniors or beneficiaries to assist them.

Good Point:
Hand-written, signed and dated lists of stuff you want to go to specific individuals are very useful for the folks that have to clean things out and follow through with some the the details.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I don’t think they give extra points for high credit scores when we check out of life on earth. :slightly_smiling_face:

In the words of Jack Benny: “If I can’t take it with me, then I’m not going!”

I was thinking, with my executor/administrator/trustee hat on, more like lists of assets & where & copies of statement(s), whether there’s a safe deposit box, where the car title is, which charities are your favorites, contact info of friends & help like CPA/attorney, passwords, where important docs are stored, and advice like settle the estate within a fiscal year so you only have to file one Form 1041 Estate Income Tax return, etc.

There’s also family history & heirlooms to pass down. Maybe most people don’t care. I so wish I had taken notes on my mom’s stuff because now I look at it and wonder if there’s anything special about this bowl or that quilt and I’ll never know now. So yes, lists of stuff that you want to hand down to family & friends.

Being obsessive, I have done all that, and heirs can easily access all my accounts, funds, passwords, etc. My problem is the bank! Worse, I cannot get a straight answer…!

I don’t think (please correct me if I’m wrong) that he’s looking for an easy way to settle the estate, but rather to keep the utilities and routine bills paid while the estate is being settled. There is a subtle difference.

There will be other non-routine bills: mortuary, funeral/memorial service, etc., plus one-offs that aren’t regular (in progress home or auto repair, dry cleaning still at the cleaners, medical bills, etc.).

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Precisely. Having beneficiaries and / or a Trust is useless. The accounts are all frozen.
Co-owner seems to be one method. Bank is mailing the forms.