Virginia Beach, VA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia

Q: Who pays utilities bills?I'm delayed for qualification of Executor due to Covid.Courts not open. I'm beneficiary of home

I am the executor. But I have to wait to be qualified. Courts have been closed since March. Everything is delayed due to Supreme Court ruling in Virginia. My parent passed in early May. Bills need to be payed. I am willing to pay from my own money to keep power, water etc going as I already lived here prior. I am the named beneficiary of home in the will, but also listed as executor. The delay in qualification means the estate bank account won't be set up for quite awhile to pay bills. This is a terrible position to be in because I have to preserve the estate by law but not paying bills can do just the opposite.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: I'm not sure that you have any duties until the Court appoints you as Executor or Administrator, but it would seem to be in your interest to pay the bills to keep the utilities turned on. In many places, utility companies have either voluntarily or by state orders indicated that they will not cut off service. I haven't read that they won't charge late fees, and many utility bills run with the land. As the only heir, that hurts you.

Further, while you need to consult with counsel and review the Will, if any, the family tree, and title to the property, in Virginia law, real estate passes to the heirs by Will or succession upon death subject to defeasment if the real estate must be sold to settle the estate. It may already be your house. Pay the bills. Keep the receipts and the cancelled checks. Get Virginia counsel to help you. Many are available across the state by Zoom, so you aren't limited to Virginia Beach.

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The courts are not closed. I have a client who qualified locally by videoconference. You just need to get in touch with the probate clerk and schedule an appointment.

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