How To Close Accounts and Cancel Subscriptions After a Death

After a death, there are many personal administrative affairs that must be handled. This mostly entails canceling any accounts, memberships, and credit cards the deceased had, which can help you avoid incurring charges from automatically renewing accounts. In addition, canceling these types of accounts can help you protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.

Cancel credit cards

The deceased’s wallet should contain all of the credit cards in his or her name. Call the number of the credit card company on the back of the card to cancel the card. While you may be able to cancel the card without giving any reason, you should be prepared to provide the deceased’s name, Social Security Number, and the reason you are canceling the card. Be aware that by canceling a credit card you may be simultaneously canceling any services or subscriptions associated with that card.

Any money that is owed on the credit card should be paid before the card is canceled.

To learn more about paying bills after a death, see our article Paying Final Bills, Dues, and Estate Expenses.

Cancel or transfer cell phone contract

To cancel or a transfer a cell phone contract, call your provider's customer support number and tell the representative that you'd like to cancel or transfer the contract and the reason why. You should not be charged a fee for either canceling a contract after a death or transferring a contract after a death.

Depending on the protocols of your provider, you may have to provide the account holder's name (the name of the person who established the account), the mobile phone number of the deceased, the date of death, and the Social Security number of the deceased. Some companies may require a certified copy of the death certificate, though it is unlikely.

The balance due on the account should be paid when the contract is canceled.

Cancel automatically refilling prescriptions

Many people have regular medical prescriptions that are automatically refilled at a pharmacy. Contact the doctor who cared for the person who died to see if the deceased was on any medications that may have been automatically refilled. The doctor may know the name of the pharmacy where the scripts were filled and you can contact the pharmacy to cancel the prescriptions.

Cancel mail or forward mail

Mail delivered by the US Postal Service can either be canceled or forwarded to another address. To forward the deceased’s mail, you must complete a Change of Address Form and submit the form to your local post office, along with proof that you are authorized to manage the deceased’s mail (Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration).

Cancel utilities or transfer accounts

If any utilities were in the deceased’s name, such as electricity, gas, water, phone, cable, and Internet, these utilities should either be canceled or transferred to the name of a survivor. Cancelation or transfer can be achieved by calling the customer service number of the utility provider. Be prepared by having a copy of the most recent bill with you while you’re calling. You may need to provide the deceased’s Social Security number.

Cancel memberships

Paid memberships, such as to a gym or sports club, cultural organization (ballet, symphony, theater, museums), or organizations or groups that require membership dues, are often non-transferrable, and should be canceled. Call the club or organization to cancel the membership, and be prepared to provide the account or member ID number.

Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions

Magazines, newspapers, and other print subscriptions can be canceled by calling the customer service number of the publication and requesting cancelation. Many publications will also allow you to cancel a subscription online. Be prepared by having a copy of the publication with you while you’re canceling the subscription.

Close online accounts

From email to shopping to entertainment to social media, there are a multitude of online accounts that you may want to shut down. Any account that has the deceased’s credit card information should be closed immediately to prevent identity theft or fraud. Common accounts to close include:

Online businesses

  • Amazon
  • PayPal
  • Ebay

Email:

  • Gmail
  • Hotmail
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • AOL

Social media:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Flickr, Picasa, or other photo-sharing sites
  • Dating sites

Entertainment:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Playstation, Xbox, or other online gaming accounts
  • MLB.com, NFL.com, and other sports sites

To find other website that may have the deceased's credit card information, check recent credit card statements.

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