How to Close Your Parent’s Mobile Phone Account After They’re Gone


Dealing with your parent’s cell phone carrier after they pass may seem like it’s just one more thing to add to an overwhelming list of things to do. The reality is that some carriers are more than happy to charge your parents estate for ETF fees, while other carriers are very sensitive to this issue.  Choose your carriers wisely.

The Big Four Cell Phone Carriers

Each mobile phone carrier has their own policy and procedures in place when it comes to closing accounts due to the death of an account holder. Most mobile phone carriers require you to sign a two-year contract that charges Early Termination Fees (ETFs) if you break your contract.

Some phone carriers are more gracious than others when it comes to charging ETFs due to the death of an account holder. I’ve listed the big top four mobile phone companies, but there are plenty of others, each one with their own procedures and policies in place.


In order for early termination fees and/or transfer of billing responsibility fees to be waived, your digital trustee must contact customer service and provide your Social Security number and the account password. In most states, (except for Oklahoma) the account must be deactivated unless a Transfer of Billing Responsibility is activated in order to retain the mobile phone number. The balance of the account will fall to the estate.

Detailed information may be found on AT&T’s help page.


Canceling or closing an account with Sprint is as easy as sending an email to with the following information:

  • Account holder’s complete name
  • Cell phone number
  • Date of death
  • Social Security number

Additionally, Sprint requires the digital trustee to include their phone number in the communication.

Details can be found on Sprint’s help page.


In order for T-Mobile to cancel your phone service and early termination fee (ETF), your digital trustee must contact Customer Care and provide the following information:

  • Cell phone number
  • Account number
  • Responsible billing party
  • Death certificate or attorney/legal estate documents if the death certificate is not immediately available

The supporting documentation listed above must be received within 30 days. Customer Relations will verify the information within 7 business days. If the documentation is not received within 30 days, T-Mobile will refuse to process the cancellation.

Additional details may be found on T-Mobile’s help page.


If your cell phone is in your name, your digital trustee should go to a Verizon/Frontier store with your death certificate. At that time, the sales associate should cancel your line and all other lines in your name, as well as stopping the early termination fee.

Contact Verizon/Frontier’s customer service department for additional details.

Author: Red Door Insurance

Author of the soon to be published book, The Guide to Organizing Your Final Wishes. Speaker, Insurance Broker & Benefits Enrollment Advisor

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