What happens to your mobile contract when you die?

Although macabre, the question of what happens to a mobile contract belonging to a recently deceased person can be an important one, so as to avoid a shock bill in a time of grieving.

BusinessTech put the question to South Africa’s mobile operators:


“In the event that the account holder passes away and the customer has no contract insurance cover, the normal procedure is to cancel the contract and submit a claim against the Estate,” Vodacom said.

“If the executor of the estate can prove that the estate is insolvent, or that there would be a shortfall, then the debt is written off. We also offer the family of the deceased an option to continue with the contract by transferring ownership”.


Eddie Moyce, executive for customer service at MTN SA, said: “MTN follows a process where it first ascertains whether someone in the family is interested in continuing with the contract; if not, the company requests a return of the handset – (may be value and age dependent). On receipt of the handset MTN consults with all relevant stakeholders, including the executor of the deceased’s estate.”

“Having taken due consideration of all relevant facts, MTN would then make its final decision, such as to whether to pursue its claim against the deceased’s estate, close the account and or cancel the contract, ” he said.

Cell C

“The family or the executor of the estate will be requested to send through the death certificate. We will also confirm the details with Home Affairs. Once we have verified that the information is valid, the contract will be cancelled immediately,” Cell C said.

Virgin Mobile SA

“As soon as we are informed that a subscriber has been deceased, in most instances by the bank due to debit order rejection, we validate the death certificate with Home Affairs.  We then enquire with the deceased’s next of kin if they would like to take over the contract,” Virgin Mobile SA said.

“If they do, we request documentation to be completed by the new subscriber and update the details on our system. If they aren’t interested in keeping the line, we migrate the service to prepaid and the family keeps the phone.  We advise the new subscriber to RICA the number again”.


“When a notification of the death of a customer is received via any of many sources, the service is immediately suspended (soft suspend). After initial investigation, the identified representative (family/next of kin, etc.) is contacted in an endeavor to obtain a certified copy of the death certificate and enquire who would be handling the late estate of the deceased,” 8ta said.

“The representative (family/next of kin) is given the option to continue with the service and complete the required change of ownership documentation if so desired, or alternatively, if they indicate that they do not intend to take over the service, it is filed for cancelation.”

“The case is transferred to the Late Estates Section for disposal of the final invoice (which would include the unpaid balance of any previous invoices as well as the outstanding balance on the handset) to the relevant party and the collection of outstanding monies is executed according to normal commercial process,” the group said.

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What happens to your mobile contract when you die?