An IRA usually has a beneficiary designation. When the IRA owner dies, the beneficiary designation controls the disposition. For example, your mother's IRA may say that all or part of the IRA should be paid to her child(ren). Because the IRA passes directly to the beneficiaries, the estate would not include them in income. Each beneficiary is responsible for including the IRA in their income when distributed.
If IRAs are her only assets, then there is no need for probate as the assets pass through designation. Because probate costs money, you could avoid this expense by not opening an estate proceeding unless other assets are involved. If there are other assets or probate, then it would be appropriate to apply for a tax identification number on Form SS-4. You should also complete and file Form 56.
The primary duties of a personal representative are to collect all the decedent's assets, pay the creditors, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs or other beneficiaries. While this sounds simple, it can get complicated, so I highly recommend you hire a good CPA and attorney to help you through the probate process.
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