Publication 559 - Introductory Material

Future Developments

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Throughout this publication, section references are to the Internal Revenue Code unless otherwise noted.

Consistent treatment of estate and trust items. Beneficiaries must generally treat estate items the same way on their individual returns as they are treated on the estate's return.

Photographs of missing children. The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.


This publication is designed to help those in charge (personal representatives) of the property (estate) of an individual who has died (decedent). It shows them how to complete and file federal income tax returns and explains their responsibility to pay any taxes due on behalf of the decedent. A comprehensive example of the decedent's final tax return, Form 1040, and estate's income tax return, Form 1041, are included in this publication.

The publication also explains how much money or property a taxpayer can give away during their lifetime or leave to their heirs at their death before any tax will be owed. A discussion of Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, and Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, is included.

Also included in this publication are the following items:

  • A checklist of the forms you may need and their due dates.

  • A worksheet to reconcile amounts reported in the decedent's name on information returns including Forms W-2, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc. The worksheet will help you correctly determine the income to report on the decedent's final return and on the return for either the estate or a beneficiary.

Comments and suggestions.   We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.

  You can send us comments from Click on “More Information” and then on “Give us feedback.” Or you can also send your comments to the Internal Revenue Service, Tax Forms and Publications Division, 1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526, Washington, DC 20224.

Useful Items - You may want to see:


  • 3 Armed Forces' Tax Guide

Form (and Instructions)

  • SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number

  • 56 Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship

  • 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  • 1041 U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts

  • 706 United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return

  • 709 United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return

  • 1310 Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer

See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting publications and forms. Also near the end of this publication is Table A, a checklist of forms and their due dates for the executor, administrator, or personal representative.

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