Ever Have A Problem Billing A Dead Customers Estate?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bilbo7021, Nov 15, 2002.

  1. bilbo7021

    bilbo7021 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 99

    I know this one sounds weird, especially from someone not even one year in the business. But my one 91 year old lady died last week. Her nephew who is handling the estate calls and tells me to just keep going with the lawn maintainance right through the winter (snow removal on sidewalks etc.), and just send him the bill at the end of the month. Is this normal? Is there anything I should watch out for with this situation?

    And just to clarify, the little old lady insisted on writing me a check each time I came over, so I knew I was always paid.

    Oh, and since I'm on the subject.......what would happen if I pick up a residential contract with someone, who then dies during the contract? I've got another little old lady who wants maintainance throughout the year.
     
  2. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    Yes this is pretty normal.

    We just finished up an account with a nephew that was handling an estate of our deceased customer. He wanted the lawn maintained until he was able to sell the property. We billed him monthly for 7 months until he just recently sold it.

    We also do this for a few of our customers that are now in personal care homes. We bill monthly out of state to a relative.

    We have never had a problem with these types of situations.
    Most times I believe the relative of the deceased is just glad to have someone stopping by keeping the place up and looking out for any suspicious activity. I have found that these types of situations although usually short-term, are pretty ideal because they are just grateful for the service and don't complain.
     
  3. Just talk to the estate administrator and tell them you expect a check by xxxx date for the previous month's service. if the person doesn't pay by your set date, then stop service.

    As was said before, most people are glad that things are taken care of. Just remember, the family member just lost somebody they loved very much(at least most of the times). Build a working realtionship with the administrator. You'll be suprised how sometimes it ends up with more clients for yourself.

    John
     
  4. LAWNS AND MOWER

    LAWNS AND MOWER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,129

    I had a deadbeat (no pun intended!) stiff me for $100. He died a year later, made a claim on the estate and got my $$$$
     
  5. Esby

    Esby LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 662

    As long as the two of you have an agreement, and you both hold your parts of the deal...then just go with the flow. I have had several instances closely related to yours, they worked out just fine.
     
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    It shouldn't be a problem. I have one property that an older woman owned. When she passed her daughter-in-law took over paying the bills. Then the daughter-in-law passed and the son took it over. Then, you guessed it, the son of the original woman passed and his son took over. He was having a little trouble with timely payment so now his sister (who lives 2000 miles away) is paying me. This property is into it's 3rd generation.

    I should add that the property has sat vacant since the original woman passed 4 years ago.
     
  7. LB Landscaping

    LB Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 1,309

    One of my customers passed away this year. His daughter-in-law has taken care of everything. She always pays on time and is easy to deal with. The house has been vacant for about 6 months but they still want the property maintained. Its in an area of nicer homes. I would say go for it, if they don't pay after the first months bill is due you won't be out too much, if they do you could keep a good customer. Good luck!!!
     
  8. greenman

    greenman LawnSite Addict
    Posts: 1,405

    The same thing happened to me over the summer. My oldest customer ,87, passed on and I was told (through a letter, never met) to continue my services until the haouse sold and just leave the invoice in such and such place. Anyway, I had no problems getting my money, but they were getting sent from St. Louis:dizzy: . It only took about a week to week and a half to get my money.

    BTW, the house sold two weeks ago.
     
  9. AGG Lawn Maintenance

    AGG Lawn Maintenance LawnSite Senior Member
    from Elberon
    Posts: 422

    It has happened to me many times over. Years ago we did tons of homes in retirement complexs. It seemed nearly every week someone pass away. I used to tell my guys that they should have a meeting to let us know who passed away this week. I never remember having any problems. I stopped working in the area because all the people passing away got to me.
    Travis
     
  10. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Posts: 1,540

    Not had a problem with this type of situation as of yet...but only had to deal with it twice so far.

    The first one...he son paid me for each visit. he lives right here in the neighborhood so he would go and check his deceased mothers mailbox, see the lawn was mowed, and drop a check off at my place.

    The second one...an older (90-something) client passed away and the executors of his estate lived in another city. I was asked if I would maintain the lawn until the house was sold (at auction) and would send the executors a bill once a month in the meantime. No problems with this one either. They were very gracious and complimentary...and payed very promptly. This particular home is across the street from me so they knew I was keeping a good eye on the place until things were settled. A plus from this one was that there is a gentleman here in the neighborhood who was a friend of the deceased, and he would stop by and check on his deceased friends home, switch lights on and off, collect the mail, ect. After chatting with this gentleman one day while I was mowing this lawn he hired me to mow his lawn too.....been mowing his for 3 years now....and it does not appear that he's ready to 'kick the bucket' anytime soon. :)
     

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