Tax Filing Responsibilities of Estate Executors

Part of your responsibility as the executor or personal administrator of an estate involves making sure the necessary tax returns are filed — and there might be more of those than you expect.

Here’s an overview:

  • Personal income tax. You may need to file a federal income tax return for the decedent for the prior year as well as the year of death. Both are due by the following-year April 15 due date, even if the amount of time covered is less than a full year. You can request a six-month extension if you need additional time to gather information.
  • Gift tax. If the individual whose estate you’re administering made gifts in excess of the annual exclusion ($14,000 for 2013), a gift tax return may be required. Form 709 is due April 15 of the year following the gift. The filing date can be extended six months.
  • Estate income tax. Income earned after death, such as interest on estate assets, is reported on Form 1041, “Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts.” You’ll generally need to file if the estate’s gross income is $600 or more, or if any beneficiary is a nonresident alien. For estates with a December 31 year-end, Form 1041 is due April 15 of the following year.
  • Estate tax. An estate tax return, Form 706, is required when the fair market value of all estate assets exceeds $5,250,000 (for estates created in 2013). One thing to watch for: Spouses can transfer unused portions of the $5,250,000 exemption to each other. This is called the “portability” election. To benefit, you will need to file Form 706 when the total value of the estate is lower than the exemption.  Form 706 is due nine months after the date of death. You can request a six-month extension of time to file.

Contact us for checklists and information about administering an estate. We’re here to help make your task less stressful.