How to Administer an Estate or Trust

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As the administrator of an estate or trust, you have many duties, especially when the owner of the trust or estate dies.

You also will become intimately familiar with a host of tax forms you may not have known existed.

Tax Forms to Know as the Administrator of an Estate or Trust

When you’re administering an estate or trust, you may have to prepare a seemingly endless array of tax returns.

The following table lists some of the most popular tax forms you may encounter.

Check with your accountant or attorney if you have any questions. (Jump down to see the chart.)

Federal Tax Form Number and Name When It’s Required When It’s Due
Form 1040
U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
When the decedent had income prior to death that hasn’t been reported. April 15 following the year of death; automatic 6-month extension of time to file provided Form 4868 is filed on or before April 15. Form 4868 doesn’t need to be filed if no tax is due; the extension is automatic.
Form 1041
U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts
When the estate or trust receives income earned. 3-1/2 months after the year-end of the estate or trust; most trusts are required to use a December 31 year end, but estates may elect a fiscal year, provided the first fiscal year ends no later than 11 full months after the date of death.
Form 706
United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return
For estates with assets more than a certain amount. Even though not every estate with assets over that amount will have an estate tax, those estates are still required to file. 9 months after date of death; due date may be extended by 6 additional months for cause.
Form 709
United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return
Generally, if the decedent gave gifts to someone (other than his or her spouse) totaling more than $12,000 in a calendar year, or if the decedent was splitting gifts with a surviving spouse who made the gifts, and the gifts haven’t yet been reported. April 15 of the year following the year the gift was made.
Form 1310
Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Person
If a tax refund is due a decedent on his or her Form 1040 (whether final or any prior year), but he or she has no surviving spouse or court-appointed representative, the person requesting the refund must complete and file Form 1310. File together with the related tax return. If claiming a refund for a prior year for which a tax return has already been filed, send as soon as possible to the IRS Service Center where the original return was filed.

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