Critter Corner: Do I need to file taxes for a deceased relative?

Dear Commander Bun Bun,

My mother passed away in 2014, and I am the executor for her estate. I typically wait until the last minute to file my taxes. Even though she is no longer with us, do I need to file taxes for her, as well?

Thanks for your help!

Filene Taxus

Dear Filene,

I am sorry to hear about your loss.

After a family death, the last thing a grieving person wants to deal with is taxes. However, typically someone has to file a final tax return that needs to be submitted by the April 15 tax-filing deadline to avoid penalties. The following are some special considerations for your situation:

  • Use of the word “deceased”: The Federal 1040 tax return (and the corresponding state tax return) will be filed using the same method a living person's tax return is filed, with two major exceptions. The word "deceased" should be placed in parentheses after the decedent's name and the date of the taxpayer's death should be written at the top of the tax return.
  • Form for tax refund: If the deceased taxpayer is entitled to a tax refund, the executor will need to file Form 1310, which is a request for a refund due to a deceased taxpayer.
  • Signing the return: The tax return should be signed by the executor, or personal representative, for the deceased taxpayer. If no personal representative has been appointed, the spouse can sign the return and note next to the signature "Filing as surviving spouse."
  • Very Large Estates:  Form 706 may be required to figure the estate tax imposed by the IRS on estates exceeding $5,430,000.
  • Deductions: Any medical bills that were incurred prior to death can be claimed, as long as they're paid within a year of the person's death.
The spouse of a decedent can file as a qualifying widow or widower for up to two years following the death of a significant other. In doing this, the spouse will be able to enjoy the benefits of filing jointly for as long as possible.

These are just a few of the tax rolls that come into play after someone's death. For more detailed information, please be sure to talk to your accountant or a member of our Trust and Estate Administration team.

Hop this is helpful!


Commander Bun Bun
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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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