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I am the Personal Representative (known as the Executor in some states) for the Estate. I am reading publication 559 and other online advice. I am seeing 3 possibilities:

  1. IRS Form 56 should be filed as soon as the EIN for the Estate is received.

  2. IRS Form 56 should be filed with the 1040 return for the deceased.

  3. IRS Form 56 isn't necessary. Include the Letters of Administration from the court with the 1040 return.

Which is correct?

Edit: my accountant said he normally omits form 56, and the IRS rarely questions him. The Personal Representative / Executor is the implied Fiduciary. The tax return has been filed and accepted.

2 Answers 2

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This is the relevant part:

Form 56.

If you are appointed to act in a fiduciary capacity for another, you must file a written notice with the IRS stating this. Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, is used for this purpose. See the Instructions for Form 56 for filing requirements and other information.

File Form 56 as soon as all the necessary information (including the EIN) is available. It notifies the IRS that you, as the fiduciary, are assuming the powers, rights, duties, and privileges of the decedent. The notice remains in effect until you notify the IRS (by filing another Form 56) that your fiduciary relationship with the estate has terminated.

Form instructions also state this:

When and Where To File

Notice of fiduciary relationship.

Generally, you should file Form 56 when you create (or terminate) a fiduciary relationship. File Form 56 with the Internal Revenue Service Center where the person for whom you are acting is required to file tax returns.

You would probably want to also file it with the 1040 return for the deceased.

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Don't treat this as legal advice but I believe that the answer is 1 always and 2 sometimes.

The general rule is that you should file a Form 56 with the IRS as representative of the estate of the deceased as soon as you get an EIN for the estate. However, if you are going to be filing a personal income tax return (Form 1040 series) for the deceased then you also file a Form 56 as their fiduciary. This latter form may be included with the 1040 if you are filing by mail.

The potential need for two forms is spelled out here.

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