The final income tax return is due at the same time the decedent's return would have been due had death not occurred. The final return should have the word "Deceased," the decedent's name, and the date of death written across the top of the return.
The income of the decedent that was includible on his or her return for the year up to the date of death and the income of the surviving spouse for the entire year must be included in the final joint return.
A final joint return with the decedent cannot be filed if the surviving spouse remarried before the end of the year of the decedent's death. The filing status of the decedent in this instance is married filing a separate return.
If you do not itemize deductions on the final return, the full amount of the appropriate standard deduction is allowed regardless of the date of death.
Do not attach a death certificate to the final return. Instead, keep it for your records and provide it if requested.
If you are a surviving spouse filing a joint return and no personal representative has been appointed, you should sign the return and write in the signature area, "filing as surviving spouse."
If you are a surviving spouse and you receive a tax refund check in both your name and your deceased spouse's name, you can have the check reissued in your name alone. Return the joint-name check marked “VOID” to your local IRS office or the service center where you mailed your return, along with a written request for reissuance of the refund check. A new check will be issued in your name and mailed to you.
Is that ALL?? For many surviving spouses, that's it. Just file your 1040 as detailed above. What about 'estate taxes', 'death taxes' and all the other things people talk about? There are two returns possible in addition to the final 1040. The federal estate tax return (706) informs the IRS of large estates and regulates their taxation. The estate income tax return (1041) declares estate income generated after death. Many surviving spouses do not need to be concerned with either of these returns.