This answer was provided by Mark Misselbeck, CPA, from Levine, Katz, Nannis & Solomon PC in Needham.
Q: My mom passed away last year. Do I need to do anything special to file her taxes? She had a simple estate, nothing probated. Do I just fill it out like the usual and mark she's deceased and I'm the executor? Do I need to create a new taxpayer ID number for the estate to file taxes or just use her social security number? --Jeff, Malden
A: You will need to file a final income tax return - Form 1040 series - for 2003. It will run from January 1 to her date of death and report the income she received while she was alive. You will write "Deceased" at the top and note it parenthetically next to her name. If you were appointed executor of her estate, sign the return as "Executor" (Administrator, if you hold that position. Consider submitting a Form 56 to notify the IRS of your fiduciary status. If there is a refund, you will need to include a Form 1310 with the return.
For the estate, you will need to file a Form 706 within nine (9) months of the date of death only if the total value of your mother's property, before any allowable deductions, had a value of $ 1,000,000 or more (you may want to file one, anyway, to establish the step-up in basis that the heirs are entitled to for the assets in the estate). For MA, you will need to file a Form M-706 if the total value of the estate was $ 750,000 or more.
During the period that the estate is open - holding assets and settling debts (such as any federal or state estate tax due) - you will need to file an income tax return, commencing on your mother's date of death and concluding on the day that your finally distribute all of the assets. The estate may use a tax year that ends on the last day of any month, so long as the first year includes no more than the month of death plus 11 more months (12 whole or partial months). You will need to file an SS-4 to obtain a separate tax identification number for the estate. This may be done on the IRS web site, electronically.