My Mother died with little or no assets. Her only income was SS which ended upon death. Her estate was probated with no claims against it and is basically insolvent. One of the bills she owed were previous years personal state and federal taxes. What happens to those? Are her children responsible for them?

2 Answers 2


Sorry about your loss.

I am not a tax expert, but I am virtually certain that the IRS (and other creditors, for that matter) cannot come after the heirs for unpaid claims. Their only claims are against the estate, but since there are no assets as you've indicated, the IRS is out of luck. There are some exceptions of which I know:

  1. The heir owned property jointly with the deceased; in that case, the creditor could potentially attach that property.
  2. The deceased transferred a substantial asset to someone else just before death (90 days is the time frame that sticks in my mind); for instance, if your mom had given you a large cash gift within a few months prior to passing away, the IRS may attempt to claim that.

I don't have references to the actual laws, but hopefully someone from the community can fill in the blanks.


One more thing: The executor absolutely must not COMMINGLE the estate's assets with his or her own. If the executor does this, the IRS will come after the executor (often an heir).

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