When a person dies, a separate tax-paying entity, called their estate, is created. The estate will earn income and continue to file tax returns until it is fully distributed. For example, if an individual dies on August 31 then all income earned from September 1 through December will be attributed to their estate. Income earned by the estate is reported on a separate tax return, Form 1041, which is required to be file if the estate earned more than $600.
The executor, administrator, or other legal representative is responsible for filing the deceased individual’s final tax return (Form 1040) as well as their estate tax return (Form 1041). A surviving spouse of the deceased may assume responsibility for filing a joint tax return in the year of death if no executor or administrator has been appointed.
If the decreased individual was unmarried then no estimated taxes need to be paid by the executor after their death. Instead, the entire tax is paid when filing the final tax return. However, if there is a surviving spouse then the estimated taxes need to be paid during the year.