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Deceased Persons – Getting Information from the IRS

Some or all of the information you need may be in the decedent’s personal records. If you need to request information from the IRS, we need to know that you are authorized to receive it. To establish that you are properly authorized to receive tax information of a decedent or their estate, submit the following with your information request:

  • The decedent’s complete name, address and social security number
  • A copy of the death certificate, and either
  • A copy of Letters Testamentary approved by the court, or
  • IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, if there is no court proceeding

Letters Testamentary is a document issued by the court during probate of a decedent’s estate. In some states, they may be called Letters of Administration or Letters of Representation. The document grants the estate administrator, executor or personal representative of the deceased, authority to manage the affairs of the decedent and their estate. In addition to resolving tax matters, you may need Letters Testamentary to gain control of the decedent’s assets.

Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, notifies the IRS of the existence of a fiduciary relationship. A fiduciary (trustee, executor, administrator, receiver or guardian) stands in the position of a taxpayer and acts as the taxpayer. Proper documentation showing authority to act on behalf of the decedent, such as a will, should be attached to the Form 56.

For a copy of the decedent’s tax return(s) use IRS Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. There is a fee for each return requested. The IRS can also provide a Tax Return Transcript for many returns free of charge. A transcript provides most of the line entries from the original tax return and may provide income information from Forms W2, 1099, or 1098 if requested.

You may request a transcript by mail using IRS Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, and have it mailed to your address. See Form 4506-T for instructions on where to send your request. The estate administrator must attach the authorization to handle the decedent’s affairs in order to receive this information. If you request a transcript online it will be mailed to the decedent’s address of record (see Change of address below). 

You may learn that the decedent owes individual income tax (Form 1040 tax) from IRS correspondence in the decedent’s records or from a Notice of Federal Tax Lien reflected on credit reports or in public records. If the decedent owes individual income taxes, for the year of death or preceding years, you can request payoff information by visiting the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center, you will need to provide the authorization to represent the decedent to receive information. For options to submit payment, see Make a Payment.

Change of address

As an estate administrator, it may be necessary to change the decedent’s address of record in order for you to receive IRS correspondence regarding the decedent and/or their estate. To change the address of record use IRS Form 8822, Change of Address. Use separate Forms 8822 for the decedent and their estate.

If you are a tax representative or estate administrator filing the change of address for the decedent, attach your power of attorney or other proper authorization. See Form 8822 for instructions on where to file the change of address.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 03-May-2016