ID for an estate
My mother died recently and I am executor. I
am told that I need to get a tax ID for her estate. How do I do
this? Why not use her Social Security number?
When an individual dies, the assets that she owned individually
pass automatically to an entity known as an estate for purposes
of administration until the assets can be distributed in accordance
with the will. The will is admitted to a probate court where the
heirs, the decedent's creditors and other interested parties become
part of the proceedings. The court will issue letters of administration
to the executor for purposes of empowering the executor to take
charge of the decedent's property. For example, if your mother had
a bank account, you will need to present the bank with letters of
administration to allow it to give you access to the funds.
Income earned by your mother prior to her passing
should be reported on a final Form 1040 under her Social Security
But any income that the estate assets produce during
administration of her estate will need to be reported on a separate
tax return: Form
1041. You will need a separate tax identification number in
order to file this return if you anticipate the income to exceed
$600 in one year. You can apply online for a TIN by completing Form
You should also file Form
56 with the Internal Revenue Service establishing your position
as executor of the estate.
If your mother passed away in 2004 and left more than
$1.5 million in assets, you'll also need to complete Form
706, Estate Tax Return. You should also read IRS
Publication 559 for survivors and executors. Depending on the
complexity of your mother's holdings, it may be advisable to get
a CPA to prepare the tax returns and an estate attorney to handle
the probate proceedings.