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Level 2

Signing Tax Return for Decedent

My mother passed away in 2019, how do I sign my mother's tax returns?  I have not been made the executor yet. That process is going through the court system.


Please advise and thanks

3 Replies
Expert Alumni

Signing Tax Return for Decedent

You will need to add Form 1310, which is used to establish you as your husband's personal representative. As long as the Social Security Administration has already been notified of the taxpayer's death, you can proceed with the filing. Click here for: Can I e-file a tax return for someone who is deceased?


You do not need to attach a death certificate to the tax return. Instead, keep it for your records and provide it if requested.


IRS Resource: 2019 Publication 559: Survivors, Executors, and Administrators



It depends on your specific state what form would be required. I recommend checking with the state individual income tax filing instructions. Some states would require a certificate showing your appointment, while other states have their own Form 1310, for example.


Click the link to find out How do I contact my state Department of Revenue? 

Form 1310 is needed for the federal filing when you are identifying yourself as the personal representative. 


Our condolences for your loss.

Level 2

Signing Tax Return for Decedent

Hi Kathryn:


Thank you for your condolences.  I did fill out form 1310 and checked box C and answered all questions.  However Turbo Tax will not let me efile my mother's tax return.  Turbo Tax says it is an IRS regulation that Form 1310 cannot be efiled.   But if the tax return can be efiled does Turbo Tax need to put an update in?  If the tax return cannot be efiled, and  since I have not been made executor of my mother's estate yet, (tied up in the court system UGH) how do I sign the tax return on her behalf?  I would prefer to efile especially since New York State preferred all tax returns to be efiled, and they are very adamant about that only a signature can be on a New York State return.  Any attempt to manually write on the tax return or to change a number would not be calculated.


Thank you so very much for your help

Ray Gorman

Expert Alumni

Signing Tax Return for Decedent

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother, as well.

The IRS states, in Signature on page 4 of IRS Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators,

"If a personal representative has been appointed, that person must sign the return. If it is a joint return, the surviving spouse must also sign it. If no personal representative has been appointed, the surviving spouse (on a joint return) signs the return and writes in the signature area “Filing as surviving spouse.” If no personal representative has been appointed and if there is no surviving spouse, the person in charge of the decedent's property must file and sign the return as “personal representative.”"

[Bolding mine based on your question.]

In Your signature(s) on page 35 of New York's Instructions for Form IT-201, meanwhile, it's stated that "If the return is for someone who died and there is no surviving spouse to sign it, print or type the name and address of the person signing it below the signature."  See also Deceased taxpayers on page 43 of the New York instructions.

Yes, you're correct, New York prefers that returns be e-filed, but doesn't mandate it except for professional tax preparers.

You might also find the TurboTax Help articles Can I e-file a tax return for someone who is deceased? and Can I file Form 1310 in TurboTax? helpful, as well.

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