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Telling an energy supplier someone's died

By Jim Fay

There’s a lot to think about when someone has died. This guide can help you through the process of closing or transferring their energy account.

Illustration of somebody sitting at their kitchen table using the phone.

Are you the estate’s executor or administrator?

Everything owned by a person who has died is known as their 'estate'. Usually, there will be an ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’ responsible for acting on the estate’s behalf.

An executor may have already been appointed, if the person had a will. If they didn’t, then someone will typically take responsibility as administrator. If you’re taking this responsibility, then you should check if you need to apply for probate first.

The executor or administrator is responsible for telling the relevant energy supplier when someone has died, so that any utility accounts can be closed or transferred to someone else.

If the property is supplied by Bulb, we have more specific information about what to do if the account holder has died.

Finding a property’s energy supplier

If you can’t find a recent bill, or you don’t know which utility company supplies the property, here’s how to find out. Some properties are supplied by different companies for electricity and for gas, so it’s important to check both meters.

To find out who supplies gas to a property:

  • use Find My Supplier by searching the property’s postcode

  • call the Meter Number Helpline on 0870 608 1524 (calls to this number cost 7p a minute, plus your phone company's access charge)

And to find out who supplies electricity to a property:

  • find the ‘network operator’ and their contact details by searching the property’s postcode in the Energy Network Association search tool

  • contact the relevant network operator, and they’ll tell you who supplies the electricity meter

What the energy supplier will ask for

When you get in touch, the energy supplier will need some specific information so they can close or transfer the account, including:

  • a photo or scanned copy of the death certificate

  • details of the executor or administrator

  • if the account holder rented the property 

  • if the property is currently vacant, or occupied

  • meter readings from the property, and the date they were taken

  • the tenancy agreement, if the property was rented

  • photos of the credit and debt balance, if the property has a prepayment (top-up) meter

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the information right now. Most suppliers will be able to start the process with the information you do have.

The supplier will ask you to send digital copies of any documents when you get in touch. If you send this information by post, the supplier should make sure any important documents are returned to you.

If you want to close the account

When someone dies, the energy account at their property doesn’t close straight away. Until the property is sold, or a new tenant moves in, the supplier will leave the account open in the name of the estate. They’ll send any monthly statements to the executor or administrator once they’ve confirmed their details.

When the property is sold, or a new tenant moves in, take a final meter reading so the supplier can generate an accurate final bill. If you can’t take a final reading, then the supplier will estimate the usage instead.

There’s also a daily ‘standing charge’ to pay for each meter, even if no energy is being used at the property. A standing charge is a fee for keeping gas and electricity supplies connected to the network, and the amount varies from supplier to supplier.

The supplier will close the account when the final bill is settled.

If there’s credit in the account 

If there’s any credit left in the account after the final bill is settled, the supplier will refund it to the person acting on behalf of the estate.

If the account is in debt 

The executor or administrator is responsible for paying any debt on the account. If the amount can’t be covered by the estate, talk to the energy supplier to find out what support they can offer to manage the debt.

The Bereavement Advice Centre has more information and offers impartial advice about what to do if the person who has died has left debts.

If you want to transfer the account to someone else

If you’re already listed as a second name on the energy account, then the supplier should be able to transfer the existing account to you. Make sure you ask your supplier for up-to-date details about your tariff so you know what rate you’re paying for your energy. A lot of suppliers offer fixed rate tariffs, so it’s good to check if the fixed rate still applies.

If you want to transfer the account to someone who lives at the property, but they aren’t already listed as a second name, the supplier will have to close the existing account and create a new one. The process for closing the account is outlined above. 

Energy suppliers won’t transfer any existing credit or debt to a new account. If a new account is set up, any remaining balance from the account will become the responsibility of the estate. That means any credit would be refunded to the estate, or the estate would arrange payment for any debt.

If you’re taking responsibility for the energy account, we recommend signing up to your supplier’s Priority Service Register. All suppliers offer extra support for customers who’ve recently experienced a change in circumstances, like a bereavement. You’ll also receive extra support services if you’re over 60, have a young child living with you, or have a disability or health condition. 

If the property has a top up (prepayment) meter

If the property has a top up meter (sometimes called a prepayment or a Pay As You Go meter) and you’d like to close the account, suppliers can refund any remaining credit on the meter, or send a final bill if there’s any money owed.

Even if no energy is being used at the property, there’s still a daily standing charge for keeping the gas and electricity supplies connected to the network.

If the account is closing and a new person is moving into the property, the supplier may ask for photos of the debt and credit screens so they can clear the balance on the meter. We have instructions about how to read a top up (prepayment) meter in our Help Centre.   

Finding independent help and advice

Letting service providers know that someone has passed away can be very difficult. There are services that can make the process a bit simpler. 

Tell Us Once is a free service that will inform several organisations and departments when you register a death. This includes HMRC, the Passport office, the DVLA, the Department for Work and Pensions and your local council.

The Death Notification service can also inform selected banks and building societies for you when someone has died.

Organisations offering support for dealing with a bereavement

Available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Cruse Bereavement Care provides support through their website, face-to-face meetings and a free national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

In Scotland, contact Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland online or call 0845 600 2227. Calls to this number cost 5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

The Bereavement Advice Centre is a free helpline and web-based information service provided by Co-op Legal Services. They give practical information and advice on the issues and procedures that face us after the death of someone close. You can call their helpline on 0800 634 9494.

A lot of people experience grief when they lose someone close to them. The NHS has more information about getting help with grief after bereavement or loss.