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Filing 2017 Federal Tax return for deceased father
Old 01-13-2018, 11:03 PM   #1
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Filing 2017 Federal Tax return for deceased father

Dad passed away on December 11 (Mom died 2 years prior). I've been doing their taxes for several years.

I read IRS pub 559 (for executors, etc) and not sure how I fit into all the requirements for filing and claiming a refund, if any.

It talks about a "personal representative", but that a court has to establish that. My brother and I are co-executors in the will, and we do not intend to open a probate, because all his items were joint accounts with us or had named beneficiaries.

Have any of you been in our situation, and did you need to contact a lawyer/tax person?
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:18 PM   #2
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I was great aunt's guardian and settled her affairs once she passed... I think you can simply prepare the return and sign it as executor. I don't think they are too particular as long as they get their $$$$.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:01 AM   #3
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Just do the taxes and mail them in. You will have "checked the box" on the IRS radar.

I signed my fathers as POA or something like that.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:18 AM   #4
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I agree. When FIL passed away, I just did the taxes and checked the boxes in Turbo Tax that he had passed and sent it in. If you file electronically, you don't really sign anything anyway. Being the executor should work just fine if asked.
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Old 01-14-2018, 04:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gindie View Post
Have any of you been in our situation, and did you need to contact a lawyer/tax person?
When my mother passed away (1999) I handled the estate and went to a tax preparer. She had several investments that I had no idea how to deal with taxwise and the learning curve was going to be very steep so for a one-off the tax preparer was well worth it.

Same thing when FIL passed, DW took all the paperwork to the tax preparer than had been doing his returns for years and thus knew the history. Again, for a one-off this was a lot easier and well worth it to us rather than spend the time dealing with it.
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:20 PM   #6
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You could check to see if the court would appoint you as executor solely for the purposes of filing his taxes. Or you could just wing it and file electronically if you have all of his information. The former is probably more proper, the latter is probably more effective, especially if you have a good relationship with your brother.

Just to nitpick a little, Senator's comment about a POA could be misleading. POAs are when the person is alive; once they die then the executor of their estate takes over responsibility for financial matters.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:20 PM   #7
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Here is a link to a turbo tax answer to the question: https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/3020914 Note the use of form 1310 which asks if probate was opened and if not just asks that the person agree to pay out the refund in the manner provided by state law.
Note that if all the assets transfer thru tod then there should not be over $600 in income which would eliminate the need to file a 1041 for the estate and likley mean that no tax id number need be gotten for the estate.
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Old 01-15-2018, 09:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by gindie View Post
Dad passed away on December 11 (Mom died 2 years prior). I've been doing their taxes for several years.

I read IRS pub 559 (for executors, etc) and not sure how I fit into all the requirements for filing and claiming a refund, if any.

It talks about a "personal representative", but that a court has to establish that. My brother and I are co-executors in the will, and we do not intend to open a probate, because all his items were joint accounts with us or had named beneficiaries.

Have any of you been in our situation, and did you need to contact a lawyer/tax person?
Went through this with FIL, but MIL was still alive. TurboTax walked me through everything, which was pretty easy. I think if you read IRS forms, you will overcomplicate your life, but my situation was a little different
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Old 01-15-2018, 10:41 AM   #9
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OP - Since you are named in the will as an executor, I would just fill out the tax form, check off the deceased box and file.
If you get a refund, distribute it according to the Will and obligations (other taxes, etc).

No need for a judge to re-declare you are the executor as nobody is going to contest anything.

Don't forget that SS should pay out a death benefit as well.
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Old 01-15-2018, 10:57 AM   #10
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Don't forget that SS should pay out a death benefit as well.
I believe the death benefit is only paid to the surviving spouse and OP said Mom passed a couple years ago.
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Old 01-15-2018, 10:59 AM   #11
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When my brother died in 2010, I was his executor, but probate was bypassed (because of insufficient assets) so my executorship meant nothing. He had NOT named me as a "personal representative". Nonetheless, I had no problems filling out his final tax return, There's boxes to check on the form to say that there was no personal representative - you just promise that the return is accurate and that any refund will be properly distributed.
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Old 01-15-2018, 12:48 PM   #12
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Sorry to hear of your father's passing...

For 2017, you will file a regular Form 1040 for when he was alive from Jan 1 to December 11. You would follow income etc rules just as if he were alive.

On Dec 11, he became an "ESTATE" for tax purposes. His estate existed from Dec 11 Date of Death, to Dec 31, 2017. If his ESTATE generated less than 600 income for that period, you will NOT have to file Form 1041 (See instructions for that form on IRS.GOV).

The ESTATE will remain OPEN until all the assets have been transferred, sold or whatever.

Did he own a house or property that you will inherit? If there is a loss or gain from it's sale, you will need to file a Form 1041 Federal form, but unless that happened in the last days of 2017, you can file in 2019 for this year.

A court appoints a rep. if an executor has not been assigned. Sounds like that is not the case here.

You need to go to the courthouse and get registered as the Executor. THis is NOT probate. You will get copies of a form declaring you Executor, that you will need if you have to close a jointly held bank account you had with Dad, or to open an Estate bank account like I had to to pay bills for Mom's home before we sold it ( to keep estate and personal expenses separate). Very easy to do. Even if stuff is not probated, without that official document, the banks will in most cases NOT remove your father's name from an inherited account. Also, get several originals of the death certificate. That may be needed too at the bank, and they will NOT take copies.

Hope this helps. My Mom passed in 2015, left us a house and property, and I did the taxes. We sold the house at a loss, so my sister and I can absorb that loss off OUR taxes as beneficiaries...

Check with your state too. HEre in PA, while alive, we file form PA 40, then the executor files for the deceased ESTATE a PA41 if there was income or a sale of a home.

Good luck....
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Old 01-15-2018, 01:49 PM   #13
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Just do the taxes and mail them in. You will have "checked the box" on the IRS radar.

I signed my fathers as POA or something like that.
+1 Did taxes for a number of years professionally and as long as Sam gets his cut, all is good generally speaking. If he had SS/W2/1099R,DIV,INT,MISC, etc. or other reported income you need to file and be done with it. Also not a bad idea to check with your attorney just to be safe as there may be outliers you are unaware of.

My condolences to you and your family.
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Old 01-15-2018, 02:27 PM   #14
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An easy way to remember is:

Your FATHER had income when he was alive....SS/W2/1099R, DIV/INT/Misc...

Once he died, he is technically an ESTATE, an entity which may have to pay tax.

An ESTATE can earn income. For instance, if your father had rental property in his name only...the rental income now technically goes to his estate. If he had interest or dividend bearing accounts....before those accounts are closed and retitled in the beneficiaries name, the interest or divs go to his estate. You will find this out if you leave the accounts in his name, and interest and divs accumulate, and you go to take his name OFF and have only YOUR name on it. At the end of that year, you will get an interest statement in HIS name.If it's over 600.00, the estate has earned income to report on Fed. Form 1041.

When people say "just file his taxes and be done with it...." yes, you can file his personal income tax and be done with that part of his taxable life, just as you did when he was alive. Sign (EXEC) beside your name.

If his ESTATE has income, you must also file for that tax due or refund. The same income and deductions against personal income are used for the FORM 1041 .

From IRS.GOV :


"When someone dies, their assets become property of their estate. Any income those assets generate is also part of the estate and may trigger the requirement to file an estate income tax return. Examples of assets that would generate income to the decedent’s estate include savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and rental property. IRS Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, is required if the estate generates more than $600 in annual gross income.
The decedent and their estate are separate taxable entities. Before filing Form 1041, you will need to obtain a tax ID number for the estate. An estate’s tax ID number is called an “employer identification number,” or EIN, and comes in the format 12-345678X. You can apply online for this number. You can also apply by FAX or mail; see How to Apply for an EIN."


Please note that the Federal Estate INCOME TAX return is NOT the Federal ESTATE TAX return ( which is the one that dictates the millions one can inherit BEFORE they have to file an ESTATE tax form).


Remember that when someone dies with an account that is jointly titled with someone else, the interest and divs still go to the main person as it always did. In order to get it into YOUR name only, you will need to switch the names using the documents in my previous note. If your Dad's ESTATE generates more than 600. in income, you'd use Form 1041 until the estate is officially closed. ( All items dispursed, sold, retitled, or whatever).


It sounds a little confusing, but if you have been doing your parent's taxes, it really isn't that difficult to do Form 1041. You will need what they call the "Employer Identification Number" ( Even though your dad was NOT an emploer-thats just what the IRS calls it!). Very easy to apply.

In the search bar on IRS.GOV enter Death of Taxpayer and it will pull up all these topix.

Hopefully your dad's estate is relatively simple. I did all these forms, plus the Schedule D1041 and the K form for my Mom. It took time, but I took my time and got it done. She had accounts titled jointly and a small home that I sold for a loss that my sister and I will now consume on our own taxes as beneficiaries.

I actually enjoy learning the tax process...and I know people who did NOT take the loss on property they inherited because they did NOT file the 1041, Schedule D1041 and K forms. Thier loss!!!!!
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Old 01-15-2018, 05:20 PM   #15
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DF passed away in 2017 and I'm the executor. The instructions say if you attach the letter of appointment as executor you don't need a 1310. However, I'm in discussions with IRS now (met with them Friday) and they insist it is indeed needed. Pointing out the instructions on the 1310 itself didn't sway them. It's easy to submit, just an annoyance when they tell you one thing and say another. I also discovered they won't contact you to tell you you need to submit the form.
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Old 01-15-2018, 05:24 PM   #16
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Note that if all the assets transfer thru tod then there should not be over $600 in income which would eliminate the need to file a 1041 for the estate and likley mean that no tax id number need be gotten for the estate.
True about the $600 threshold, but I found I needed the EIN number to open the estate's bank accounts.
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:03 PM   #17
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Don't forget that SS should pay out a death benefit as well.
I had heard that as well, but the rules actually say that the payment will only be made if there is a surviving spouse, or a child dependent on the decedent's SS benefits. Neither is true in our case.


[Edit: Sorry, I had not read all the previous responses before posting this one]
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:24 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the responses. Below is the complete list of his assets. I believe/hope that it is simple enough that things like an ESTATE, 1041, etc. can be by-passed:

-Joint bank account with Dad, brother, and myself
-IRA (brother and I each 50% beneficiaries, already divided and re-titled as inherited IRAs)
-Brokerage account (brother and I equal benef., already distributed)
-Stock (registered as TOD to me)
-Several life insurance policies (brother and I equal benef. on all)
-Household furnishings (lawyer advised that brother and I split them up amicably, which we have done. There's nobody else around to contest anything)

That's it.
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