Procedure for terminating the energy supply contract in the event of the death of a loved one

The period following the death of a loved one is a great emotional and psychological challenge for all involved, and often means getting used to a new reality without the deceased. However, it should be kept in mind that this time for the survivors also involves a number of obligations that are closely related to the completion and management of the deceased’s administrative and official affairs. These include, among others, the obligation of the survivors to arrange for the termination of the contract for the combined supply of gas and electricity to the estate of the deceased. This article is intended to provide readers with a basic overview and guidance on how to proceed in a situation where a close relative passes away and, at the same time, a combined energy supply contract is entered into between the individual and the electric/gas utility.

At the outset of this article, we consider it important to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that the death of a relative does not cause the contract for the combined supply of energy – gas and electricity (hereinafter also referred to as the “Contract”) to be terminated immediately, as the Civil Code establishes the principle that the death of the debtor does not extinguish his obligation, unless the content of the Contract was a performance that the debtor should have provided personally. A monetary payment to an electricity/gas supplier in return for the supply of energy certainly cannot be considered such a personal performance.

In view of this fact, the relatives of the deceased are obliged to terminate the contract with the energy supplier in question, as this is also in their interest. Termination of the contract is basically done in two ways, either by transferring the point of consumption from the deceased to the relative, so that the energy supply to the point of consumption – the property – is maintained. If the energy supply to the consumption point is no longer necessary for various reasons and no one needs it, the contract with the supplier can be terminated completely.

In both cases, you need to fill out the appropriate form at the energy supplier, depending on whether you want to terminate the contract or transfer it to another person. However, energy suppliers require a document showing that the survivor is deceased, such as an affidavit from a relative, in order for the contract to be rewritten or cancelled in its entirety. In most cases, a copy of the death certificate is the appropriate document, but in exceptional cases, the utility will also accept, for example, a court order establishing the person’s death. It should also be remembered that it is not necessary to wait until the beginning or even the end of the inheritance proceedings before transferring or terminating the contract, which in some cases can take months. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that any arrears or overpayments must be clarified by the contractor with the heirs.

In the event that the survivors fail to terminate or transfer the contract to a new person, the risks and problems that this failure could cause must be considered. If the survivors fail to take the above steps and continue to consume energy under a contract that is in the name of a deceased person, this does not automatically constitute unauthorized consumption under the Energy Law, i.e., consumption without a validly concluded contract. However, for the purposes of our article, we assume that energy bills or reminders for outstanding deposits will continue to be sent to the name and address of the deceased, since the energy supplier has no knowledge of his or her death. If such a situation were to occur, sooner or later it would mean the forced disconnection of the point of consumption from the distribution network for non-payment, while the reconnection of the point of consumption to the distribution network is generally subject to a fee with all energy suppliers, the amount of which varies from supplier to supplier. Also in this case, the survivors of the deceased would be obliged to pay the energy consumption debt, see below.

If, on the other hand, the survivors wish to use the death of their loved one to their advantage by continuing to draw energy from the deceased’s contract and pay nothing for the energy drawn, believing that the supplier is only collecting the debt from the deceased and that they are in no way liable for the energy drawn, it is necessary to disappoint them and at the same time point out that the survivors would also be liable for the debt thus incurred. As soon as the energy supplier learns of the death of a relative, it would take steps to find out how the inheritance procedure was settled and who became the heir of the deceased relative. Once the energy supplier had determined this, it would begin to collect the debt incurred at the point of consumption from the deceased’s heirs. For completeness, it should be noted that these relatives/heirs would be liable for the energy consumption debt until the death of the deceased due to the transfer of the deceased’s debt and for the period after the death of the deceased due to the transfer of the rights and obligations under the energy pooling contract to the heirs. In simple terms, this means that the heirs of the deceased take the place of the deceased in the contract.

In summary, after the death of a relative, all measures should be taken to terminate the energy supply contracts in order to avoid disconnecting the point of consumption from the distribution network due to non-payment of energy bills and subsequently incurring unnecessary charges for reconnection, and to avoid asking the heirs to pay the debts for energy consumption in the property after a certain period of time, even though the property was not used at all or even by completely different third parties.

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