What happens to someone’s mobile phone account when they die? (AU)

mobile_phone_account_close_someone_dies_death

Credit: Lizerixt

Away For a Bit asked major Australian mobile operators about their policies on how next of kin can close accounts on behalf of someone who has died. Read what mobile operator policies are in the UK. No operators were able to state categorically what costs a family member or friend would need to cover from the deceased’s estate when finalising bills or if they required a handset to be returned in the event that one was included in the account plan. Vodafone did however state that the company does not generally expect the return of the handset or settlement of bills.

Telstra perhaps offered the most comprehensive overview of how their account closure worked in these circumstances, followed by Vodafone. Optus was pretty vague in offering details but did provide a customer number for the bereaved to call in such circumstances.

Here’s a line up of the major Australian mobile operators and what they outlined as their account closing policies for someone who has died.


Optus

According to Optus:

Family members or friends who have the legal authority can cancel a deceased customer’s Optus services or transfer the services to a new account holder by calling the customer service team on 133 937 or by visiting the company’s bereavement page.

Requests are handled by a dedicated Advocacy team which provides support to manage sensitive customer account matters, and the process is usually completed within five business days once completed documentation is received.

To cancel or transfer a service, loved ones are required to provide details of the deceased’s Optus accounts, along with supporting documentation that proves they have legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased. Supporting documentation could include a funeral notice from a major newspaper; a statutory declaration; or a letter confirming the executor or administrator of the estate.


Telstra

Telstra suggests multiple ways for the bereaved to contact and sort out account closure or transfer. Customers can:

  • Phone 13 2200 and say “Deceased Estate”
  • Fax 1300 556 737
  • Email thetelstrateam@online.telstra.com with “Bereavement Support” in the subject line
  • Visit a Telstra store
  • Write to:
    Telstra Bereavement Support
    Locked Bag 20026
    Melbourne Vic 3001
Who can do this:
  • The Executor, Trustee, or Administrator of the estate;
  • Next of Kin (such as an immediate family member eg Parent, Son/Daughter, Sister/Brother, Grand Child, Surviving spouse or Guardian over the age of 18);
  • Power of Attorney (General/Medical/Financial);
  • A lawyer or solicitor administering the customer’s will; or
  • An authorised representative listed on the account.

Death Certificate Requirements?

No need. Customers who are authorised to act on the deceased’s behalf need to fill out a bereavement support form.

Does the family/next of kin need to pay the remainder of the contract?

Unclear. Telstra states that mobile plans can be transferred and there may be charges to do so. In the event of this happening, some people qualify for concessions i.e. pensioners or those with medical priority assistance.


Vodafone

According to a Vodafone spokesperson:

If someone passes away, the person managing their affairs can call up with either the pin to the account, or basic account information (name, DOB and address or post code), as well as date of death. If they’re unable to provide this, Vodafone need the request to be raised by a lawyer, trustee of executor of the estate.

A family member or person managing the estate simply needs to contact Vodafone on 1300 650 410.

The family member then has the option to either close other account or transfer it into their name (some people wish to keep the deceased person’s phone number). If closing, Vodafone doesn’t require the return of the handset or further payments on the account.

 

Information updated June 2017.

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