Am I responsible for an overdue water bill on property that I inherited?

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Am I responsible for an overdue water bill on property that I inherited?

My father passed away last year, and I inherited his house. I would like to turn the water on at the property but recently found out that my dad owed $1200 from an overdue water bill before he passed. Am I able to establish water service in my name at the same property? Or am I first responsible for his bad debt?

Asked on September 24, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Your Father's estate is liable for the water bill as it is a debt of the estate.  Did you probate a Will or an administration if he died intestate?  This bill should have been part of settling the estate.  Is there a lien by the county or state agency that meters the property?  That should have come up in a title search on transfer of the property if one was done by the executor (I am not stating here that it was required to be done; that you would have to take up with the executor and estate attorney).  Many cities/counties/states give utilities priority in liens on property and although the outstanding balance is not in your name, for all practical purposes you may not be able to turn the water on without paying it, especially if they see the familial relationship.  Speak with the executor of the estate on the issue.  Good luck.


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