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Rev. date: 11/17/2015


Tax Topic 356
The personal representative of an estate is an executor, administrator, or anyone else in charge of the decedent's property. The personal representative is responsible for filing any final individual income tax return(s) and the estate tax return of the decedent when due. For more information on personal representative responsibilities, refer to Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators.
The filing requirements that apply to individuals will determine if the personal representative must prepare a final individual income tax return for the decedent. Refer to Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals, for more information.
The method of accounting used by the decedent at the time of death determines the income to include and the deductions to take on the final return. Most individuals use the cash receipts and disbursements method. Under this method, the final individual return should show only the items of income the decedent actually received, that were credited to his or her account, or that were made available to him or her without restriction before death. Generally, the final individual return can claim deductions for expenses the decedent paid before death. If the decedent used an accrual method, refer to Publication 559, and Publication 538, Accounting Periods and Methods, for more information.
Write the word "DECEASED," the decedent's name, and the date of death across the top of the final individual tax return. When filing electronically, some commercially-available software may make the required annotations for you. If filing a joint return, write the name and address of the decedent and the surviving spouse in the name and address fields. If not filing a joint return, write the decedent's name in the name field and the personal representative's name and address in the address field. If a refund is due to the decedent, it may be necessary to file Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer, with the return. If you are a surviving spouse filing a joint return, or a court-appointed or court-certified personal representative filing an original return for the decedent, you do not have to file Form 1310. Court-appointed or court-certified personal representatives must attach to the return a copy of the court document showing the appointment.
Refer to the Instructions 1041 (PDF) to determine if the law requires filing of Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts.
Refer to the Instructions 706 (PDF) to determine if the decedent’s estate must file Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.