Jul 30, 2008

Q & A: Filing a Return for Deceased Spouse

QUESTION: My husband passed away October 6, 2003. We were married for 8 years and always filed our taxes individually. He had used an accountant who is now deceased. After my husband passed away, I contacted and paid another firm to assess my husband's IRS account. They had power of attorney and I thought they filed his 2003 tax return. But they did not and have since purged their files. This year I was named executrix for my husband's estate by the court because we had to probate an estate that has no assets due to unreasonable actions taken by an ex-wife.

The IRS is asking me to file his 2003 tax return by the end of this month. From looking at former returns, I can ascertain that my husband was fully disabled and had income from a trust. No taxes were taken from this trust because of its nature and the fact that he had lost body functions that prohibited him from working. How should I file this return? Are there special forms? I'm at a total loss since I'm not a CPA or tax lawyer. My late husband's accountant also had power of attorney, and was alive when my husband passed away to receive all of my husband's financial correspondence. He was the one who signed my husband's tax returns. I have no idea of where any records are. Thank you for any help or ideas that you can furnish me with.

ANSWER: First of all, I am sorry to hear that you have been put into such a difficult predicament. As executrix of your late husband's estate, you can file his 2003 Form 1040 return using the married filing separately status. You should write "DECEASED" across the top of the first page of the return and sign your name on the signature line as executrix. If you need to obtain copies of tax information needed to complete the return, such as income related documents, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040, follow the prompts and request the documents to be mailed or faxed to you. When you finish the return, you may either mail it to the same IRS service center that you have mailed your return to or take it in person to a local IRS office, if one is available. May I also make the suggestion that you consult with a professional tax preparation firm in your area to assist you with completing the return.

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