The death of a loved one often brings a significant amount of paperwork, especially for a family member who have been named as the executor of the estate. One of the duties of the executor (sometimes called the administrator) is filing a final return for state and federal taxes.
Declarations to Make on a Decedent’s Tax Return
The final income tax return of a deceased person is prepared in much the same way as it was when they were living. All forms must be filed by April 15 of the year following the taxpayer's death, and all income must be reported and deductions to which the decedent is entitled may be claimed up to the date of the taxpayer’s death.
- Income. Any and all income from the beginning of the year to the date of the taxpayer’s death should be reported on the final return.
- Deductions. Any deductible expenses that were paid before the taxpayer’s death can be claimed on the final return, and medical bills paid within one year after death can be deducted on the final return (even if the bills were not paid until after the death).
- Filing status. If the taxpayer was married at the time of death, the surviving spouse is able to file a joint return for the year of death. The executor can file the joint return at the surviving spouse’s request, or the spouse can file it if no executor was appointed. If a joint return is filed, the spouse must sign for himself and write "filing as surviving spouse" in the space for the other spouse's signature. If there is no surviving spouse, the executor must sign the return and write “on behalf of” the decedent’s name.
- Refunds. If a refund is due, the spouse or executor will have to complete and file Form 1310 (Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer) with the final return. If there is no surviving spouse, the return will be added to the deceased’s estate and may have to go through probate with the rest of his holdings.
We Can Help
In order for the estate to be closed, the deceased taxpayer must have returns on file for all previous years. Survivors may have to file additional income tax returns for the deceased and pay any tax that is owed using funds from the deceased person’s estate. If you need help filing a tax return for a deceased family member, our experienced legal team can help. Call us today, or fill out our online contact form to get started.