How To Settle An Estate: Pay Final Bills, Dues, Taxes and Expenses

In order to settle the estate, all outstanding bills and dues that the person who died owed must be paid.

Types of bills and dues

Common types of bills and dues include:

  • Credit cards
  • Medical bills
  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Mortgages
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Payday loans

Administrative expenses and final bills

Bills and dues can be divided into two categories: administrative expenses and final bills.

Administrative expenses are any ongoing bills that must be paid, such as rent, mortgages, insurance, and utilities. These bills can (and should) be paid even if the probate process is not complete. These bills should be paid by the beneficiaries named in the will. Though laws vary from state to state, for the most part you'll want to transfer these ongoing bills and accounts into your name or the name of the executor, who can then pay the bills.

Final bills are bills for which the full amount can only be paid once the probate process is complete, such as taxes, credit card bills, and medical bills. These bills should only be paid by the executor using money from the estate once probate has concluded.

If you cannot afford to pay some of the administrative expenses without money from the estate, you should be in touch with the companies that are owed and explain your situation. In some cases, you may be granted a deferral on those bills.

Paying taxes

You will also have to pay taxes on behalf of the person who died and the estate. To learn about the tax element of settling an estate, see our article Paying Taxes on Behalf of the Estate and the Person Who Died.

Other Important Things To Take Care Of...

Cancel any credit cards, cell phones, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, memberships, and online accounts that the deceased had

In many cases, cancelling a credit card will take care of cancelling paid accounts and services, since any services or subscriptions associated with that card will no longer be paid.

Cancel mail or forward mail

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.

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.

Distribute, sell, or donate any personal items that were not included in the will

Many times, personal items of sentimental or real value are not included in a will. These items should be properly distributed to surviving family members or donated to charity.

 

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