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I&M Electric (Michigan) Shut Off Power & Denying Service until DECEASED person's bill is paid

#1
Michigan~ My Uncle passed away last year on 5/13/17 with NO Will.
My Uncle & his 87 year old roommate lived in the mobile home & my Uncle's name is the only name listed on title.
The Utility bills for the mobile home had been only in my Uncle's name until he passed away. After his death, his Roommate opened New utility accounts only in his name.
After my Uncle's death, his roommate was struggling to pay all his bills with his small Social Security check. In Sept. 2017, I began the process of helping him apply for assistance with DHS/Social Services to get help with paying his Utility bills. During the entire process, I had contacted and kept both Utility companies (Gas & Power) informed and updated. Each time I called to give them an update, they would note & put a hold on his accounts. Then again during the winter months they put hold on account to prevent from being shut off.


Finally, this past April 2018, he was given a new Caseworker and she was able to get approval to pay both of his Utility bills. I contacted both Utility companies to let them know DHS approved payment to pay his bills.
Sadly, before DHS had processed the payments & copay was paid, my Uncle's roommate passed away on May 2, 2018.
Since he passed away B
efore any payments were processed, DHS did NOT send the payments.

After my Uncle's death last year, I stepped in to help his 87 yr. old roommate, but I did NOT live there. I live 1 1/2 hrs. away, but would go visit and help whenever I could. After my Uncle's roommate died on 5/2/18, I contacted both Utility companies to let them know.
Then I opened a NEW account in My name for both Utility bills; since bills cannot be kept in deceased name and because I still need the gas & electric while cleaning and packing everything inside mobile home.

On May 23, 2018, I opened new Utility accounts in my name. Semco Gas opened new account in my name & said a $50.00 deposit will be on my 1st bill. I&M opened a New account in my name and I paid a $167.00 for Deposit. At that point, I thought all was fine; since I informed both of them of my Uncle's roommates death and I the fact I had opened the new accounts in my name. Well, I was wrong.
The following day, May 24, 2018 I received a voicemail and email from a lady at I&M asking me to contact her. When I spoke to her, she said that I HAD to pay my Uncle's deceased roommate's bill of $713.00 or I&M will shut off the power and deny service to anyone at that address until his bill is paid.
I explained to her that DHS had approved to pay his bill, but since he died before it was processed, they didn't pay it. I told her I had been trying since Sept. to get help for him & have the documents showing the DHS approval amount and I can't help that he died just before they were to send payments. Also told her that I was NOT related to my Uncle's deceased roommate, my name was NOT on his bill and I never lived there and couldn't understand how I could be legally responsible for his bill.
I explained again that I had stepped in to help him after my Uncle died a year ago. Now that both of them have passed away, I need the power on so I could clean and pack things up. She said since the mobile home is in my Uncle's name; I or someone needed to pay his bill or they will shut off power and deny service.
I told her I had already opened a new account in my name and gave them $167.00 deposit, but she said that didn't matter. She told me his bill had to be paid or they will deny service at that address; even if someone else buys or rents it.

I called I&M on June 22nd to ask when I should receive my 1st bill and to make sure power was still on. He said meter would be read on Mon. June 25th & I would receive bill shortly after that. I said thank you and I just wanted to make sure power was still on. He said okay. He NEVER said anything about the Power already being shut off.

On Tuesday, June 26th, I drove 1 1/2 hrs. from my home to the mobile home; thinking the power was on and I could continue packing, etc. When I arrived at mobile home, I found that the power was already shut off. The tag on door said it would be shut off on June 13th, if bill was not paid. Then in the "other box" at bottom, they wrote in "Deposit".
Needless to say I was upset, since I had not been there since last week of May and I had left a large note taped to the door with my name and phone number to contact me. I also asked them NOT to turn off power and I quoted their Customer handbook; where says I&M would NOT shut off power for failure to pay someone else's bill or for failure to pay a previous occupants bill. My phone number is also listed on deceased roommate's account. Even though the note was large & still taped to the door, NO one ever called to tell me that they actually shut off the power, so now all the food in fridge & freezer are spoiled and the smell is horrific!

So now, here I am with the power shut off and we have had extremely hot weather this summer and still more ahead. There is no way I can do what I need to do inside the mobile home without any power for fans or air conditioning in this excessive heat. Besides, I don't understand why this is even happening.
I thought I had done everything I was suppose to do by contacting and informing I&M that my Uncle's roommate passed away & then opening a new acct. in my name with deposit. I cannot find anything in I&M Customer handbook explaining that they would shut off power and deny service, like they are in my situation.


I don't know how all that works, but I thought if there was an outstanding debt, they would be paid from an Estate and the surviving relatives would not be responsible to pay the debt out of their own money.
I don't know if my cousins will have to open a full Estate/probate or not; since my deceased Uncle's asset of the mobile home is less than $10,000.00. My Uncle's adult children live out of state and they haven't had chance to get back to Michigan yet. They and our family are still grieving my Uncle's death and now just a year later, we are grieving the loss of his roommate too.

I plan on filing a formal complaint, but wanted to make sure I had researched and had my facts correct.

Thank you for your time and appreciate any advice and guidance you can give me. If you need more information, please let me know.
 


#2
She said since the mobile home is in my Uncle's name; I or someone needed to pay his bill or they will shut off power and deny service



if the home wasn’t in your uncle’s name you may be able to argue the point but it is in your uncle’s name so either pay the bill or get no electricity.
 
#3
I am NOT up on the quirks Michigan public utility rules ...but generally speaking a new tenant/owner is not responsible for a prior tenants bills ....and you post that uncles account was changed to his roommate ...the utility is free to chase roommate's estate for those bills , and uncle's estate for uncle's bills but if you are new owner ..you should be entitled to a new account ...if you are merely administering uncles estate then it makes sense that administrator is required to address any of uncles unpaid bills after a proper shut off of tenant for non payment.
 
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