When a loved one or spouse passes away, your immediate attention is usually directed towards dealing with putting them to rest. But once that is done and the task of dealing with the person’s affairs begins, an important question typically arises; what do we do about their taxes? This post will walk you through the process of filing the needed tax returns as well as outline some additional considerations.
Who Must File (Filing Requirements)?
Generally speaking, whether a person has to file a tax return or not is determined by their gross income, age and filing status. However, when a person has passed away, it is generally a good idea to file a tax return even if there is no obligation to do so. Why you may ask? Because this serves as notice to the IRS and other government agencies that this person is no longer alive. This aids them in closing that person’s SSN account so that someone doesn’t fraudulently use it. It also helps other agencies begin the process of notifying beneficiaries of assets that the deceased had or was entitled to (e.g. survivor benefits).
So who’s job is it to file the last return for a person who has passed away? Simple, the personal representative! The personal representative is generally defined as one of either two people; an executor or an administrator. An executor is named in a decedent’s will to administer the estate and distribute properties as the decedent has directed. An administrator is usually appointed by the court if no will exists, if no executor was named in the will, or if the executor cannot (or will not) serve. In general, an executor and an administrator perform the same duties and have the same responsibilities.
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