What happens if the deceased has an outstanding IRS debt for unpaid back taxes?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What happens if the deceased has an outstanding IRS debt for unpaid back taxes?

My sister, who lives in OK, has $18,000 outstanding IRS tax debt. She is now

terminally ill, her estate is personal property only which is less than $20,000.

She rents and has no money to speak of in the bank. She wants to name my

neice, who lives in another state, to be the executor of her Will. How can my

neice be legally protected from this debt when she files my sister’s taxes after

her death? Does the will need to go through probate? Can there be 2 named

as executors of a Will?

Asked on July 11, 2018 under Estate Planning, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An executor is not personally responsible for the deceased's debt, so your neice will not be responsible for the existing $18,000 tax debt. However, an executor is responsible for how she does her job, so if it would be difficult or impossible to get accurate and complete information so as to file an accurate and truthful estate tax return, you neice may choose to not be executor, so as to not take on this headache and not sign (as executor) any documents that she is not confident of.  She cannot be forced to be executor against her will: even if named in the will, she can decline to serve if she chooses.
Yes, you can have co-executors (e.g. two executors).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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