DeKalb resident struggling to pay deceased father-in-law’s $9K water bill, says county won’t let him

A family wants to pay the thousands of dollars owed on the water bill of a dead relative, but says DeKalb County officials won’t let them.

It’s nearly $9,000 Larry Sipes says he’s been trying to pay off for weeks.

“They won’t even let an individual like me pay the bill,” Mr. Sipes said.

But Mr. Sipes says both he and his wife have been blocked from paying off his deceased father-in-law’s water bill.

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He told Channel 2 investigative Reporter Ashli Lincoln, “It’s just making matters worse and worse”.

Debbie Sipes said her 50-year-old brother who was living in the home suddenly passed away and when going through documents they discovered these water bills.

“It’s frustrating, it’s scary, and it angers me,” Mrs. Sipes said.


Sipes told Channel 2 Action News the account was never transferred to her brother’s name after her father’s passing.

The Sipes said when they try to pay, they’re told the account number for the billed account doesn’t match county records. And even if the account numbers matched, the Sipes say they couldn’t pay because they’re not the court-appointed administrator of the estate.

“This is very common,” attorney Ashley Black said.

Estate planning attorney Ashley Black says a lot of Georgia families don’t have an estate plan. Most utility agencies require administrative deeds to access a deceased loved one’s account, even if it’s just to make a payment.

‘That’s why having the letters of administration [is] very important because they know that the person I’m giving this personal information to is the person that’s in charge of this person’s estate,” Black said.

Channel 2 Action News reached out to Dekalb County to look into Sipes’ water bill. A county spokesperson said they are looking into this matter.

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